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MABEL GORDON. 



I'l; 



A INovel. 



By R. K. D. 



NEV/ YORK : 

J. S. OGILVIE PUBLISHING COMPANY, 

57 Rose Street. 




STEPHEN B, WEEKS 

CLASS OF 1886: PH.D THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY 

liBIRAW 

OF THE 

UMVERsmr OF Mm camdliina 

TIE WEEKS COLlLECTnON 

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CMOLIMAM 



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Mabel Gordon. 



K 



A NOVEL. 



By R. K. D. i - JUp 



(Copyright 1901, by J. S. Ogilvih Publishing Cohfanv.) 



All Rights Reserved. 



NEW YORK : 

J. S. OGILVIE PUBLISHING COMPANY* 

57 EosE Street. 



TO MY MOTHER, 

TO WHOM, UNDER GOD, 1 OWE THE SAFE GUIDANCE OF 

MY youth; AND 

TO THE MEMORY OF MY DAUGHTER, 

who was in CHARACTER A PERFECT MODEL OF MY HEROINE, 

THIS LITTLE WORK IS 

GRATEFULLY AND LOVINGLY DEDICATED 

BY 

THE AUTHOR 



PREFACE 



Reader^ my work is before you ; if it only beguiles 
a lonely hour I shall be glad. If it serves to strengthen 
the faith of anyone, then "love's labor" will not have 
been lost. If, also, someone should find pleasure in 
criticising that which the writer, while painfully con- 
scious of his inability to tell this story perfectly, yet 
has done so with care, somebody will be happy, and to 
give happiness to even one heart is cause for gladness. 

R. K. D. 



MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER I. 



'TwAS not the place to look for a high-bred, hand- 
some young man, yet Allan Harvey leaned against 
Farmer Gordon's fence, though he was evidently not 
interested in the growing crops, and the flood of melody 
poured forth from the throat of a mocking-bird perched 
upon a tree near by, fell on unheeding ears. 

"What can keep her so late?" he said. "Ah, there she 
comes," and with a brightening face he started forward 
to meet a slender, almost childish-looking girl who came 
with light, quick steps across the field. 

In one hand she held her sunbonnet, a way she had 
of carrying it instead of on her head, as was evidenced 
by patches of freckles she hated, and which gave her 
brother cause for fun at her expense. In the other she 
carried a basket of strawberries, 

"Little loiterer," said he as they met, "I've waited 
for you till my patience was almost gone." 

"Why did you wait at all ?" she asked. 

"I wanted to see my little comrade particularly," he 
replied. "I came by your home and talked with the 
dear mother a while. She told me you had gone to take 
something nice to old Mrs. Jones and would not be out 
late. I would have gone to meet you had I known what 
route you'd take ; whether the road or the path by your 
old nurse's house; your feet naturally gravitate that 
way." 



10 MABEL GORDON 

"And you are not to say anything if they do," re- 
torted the girl. "Mammy deserves all my devotion." 

"Oh, I wouldn't dare say aught against the old 
lady," he said, smiling, "for I know what a loyal little 
girl you are, and then Mammy seems faithful to you. 
What have you in your basket? Strawberries? I 
didn't know they were ripe." 

"I found these as I came and stopped to pick them; 
that's why I stayed so long. Father is fond of them 
with sugar and cream. Mind, don't spill any. Won't 
you stay and enjoy them with us at supper?" 

"Thank you," he said, "but I'll have to decline your 
invitation, tempting as it is. You scratched your hand, 
little girl ; that's too bad." 

"Oh, it is nothing," she said, "and I did it myself. 
Some of the berries grew low down on the ditch and in 
reaching for some I was determined to get I scratched 
my hand on a briar. Father's enjoyment will ease my 
hurt." 

"Mab," said he, "do you know you are the most un- 
selfish being I ever saw ?" 

"Why, no," she replied. 

"Yes," said he, "you are, and I hate dreadfully to 
have to give up this pleasant companionship, but I 
came this afternoon to say good-bye for a long time." 

"Why do you leave so soon?" asked the girl, her 
face clouding slightly. 

"Are you sorry, dear?" and Allan's voice was very 
tender. 

"Yes," she answered frankly. "We wall miss you 
very much. Mother enjoys your calls." 

"Mrs. Gordon is a lovely woman," said he, "and her 
daughter bids fair to be like her. It gives me a wrench 
to say farewell, but my aunt has decided to take my 
cousin Lucile abroad. The climate and health-giving 
springs have benefitted Lucile so much she thinks she 
can resume her studies, and they want me with them in 



MABEL GORDON 11 

Berlin. I will take a course in something. We will be 
gone quite a long time, and when I return my little 
comrade will be a young lady, and a pretty one I'll 
wager." 

The girl laughed in a surprised way as she an- 
swered : 

"Why, my hair is red, and, Willie says, never looks * 
like it is brushed, and I'm freckled. Pretty, indeed ! 
You never made fun of me before." 

"And I don't now," he said. "This unruly hair will 
some day be beautiful, with a color artists love to paint, 
and when you learn to be careful of your skin the 
freckles will disappear, and these glorious eyes will 
make you irresistible. Don't let the admiration that 
will be yours change you, for your artlessness is your 
chief charm. Keep that, and your purity; study hard 
in your books and you will make a splendid woman; 
one any man might be proud to call his wife." 

The eyes raised to his were full of startled surprise 
as she replied : 

"Mother would not like you to talk so to me. I am 
very young." 

"Yes, sweet child," said he, smiling, "you are young, 
but the years go by swiftly, and ere long you will be 
a lovely woman, and then — I am coming back. Don't 
forget me, Mabel." 

"I couldn't," she said, simply, "and I will improve 
the time. You shall not be disappointed in me." 

"How do you pass the evenings?" he asked, to pro- 
long the talk. 

"I help mother if she needs me. Sometimes I read, 
and then we retire early, for we ri-se betimes at our 
house." 

"Unlike us at the hotel," said he. "Last night we 
had a grand ball, and danced till the "wee sma' hours" 
came, and to-day we are a lazy set." 

"I heard the music," she said, "and it was so sweet 



12 MABEL GORDON 

that even when I said my prayers it drew my mind away 
till I was ashamed, and I wondered if you were among 
the dancers." 

A mental picture of the young girl kneeling in her 
white robe rose before him, in strong contrast with the 
gayly dressed throng whirling in the dance for hours 
after she was calmly sleeping, and he looked at her 
with a fond smile. 

"Dear, simple-hearted child!" he exclaimed. "I 
wonder if I'll find you changed when I come back. Re- 
member me always, Mabel, and I promise not to for- 
get the little girl I find so sweet that 'tis hard to leave 
her." 

He took both the little sunburnt hands in his shapely 
white one and looked deep into the eyes which met his 
with the innocent look he knew so well, though the 
tears were near just now ; then he stooped suddenly and 
kissed her, "for," he said softly, "we may never meet 
again." Then he went away, and Mabel watched him 
till the lithe, graceful figure was lost to sight, and with 
a strange feeling of loneliness she went on to her 
home. 

Mrs. Gordon noticed that she seemed serious, and 
she asked : 

"What saddens my little girl ?" 

"Mr. Harvey told me good-bye for a long time," she 
replied, "and I will miss him very much." 

"Yes, and I'll miss him, too," said the mother. "He 
is a nice fellow, and I liked to have him run in occa- 
sionally." 

Then she dismissed the subject, and if Mabel felt 
grieved at the loss of her friend she was too busy to 
brood over it, and soon she was as bright as was her 
wont. 

She was an only daughter. One son was left, while 
two gallant boys had laid down their lives for their 
country, and the parents' faces showed what grief had 



MABEL GORDON 13 

3one for them. Mr. Gordon had been a wealthy- 
planter and numbered many slaves as his own ; now the 
fertile fields went untilled, save a small farm, for labor 
was hard to command, and he, like many of his kind, 
could not adjust himself to the new order of affairs. 
His children were denied the advantages their birth 
called for, and the gentle, cultivated mother had to 
find time, with all her arduous duties, to teach Mabel, 
while Willie went to the district school a few months 
every year. The parents grieved that the children were 
deprived of so much they had hoped for, but Mabel ac- 
cepted the situation bravely, and went about her many 
duties cheerfully, glad to lighten the mother's burdens 
m any way. She was so carefully reared, so pure and 
artless, she had attracted young Harvey from their first 
accidental meeting, and he really hated to leave her, but 
when health and strength came to his petted cousin, his 
aunt decided to return home and of course he had to 
attend them. As he was easily entertained he soon par- 
tially forgot his "little wild flower." 



14 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER 11. 

Always fond of study, Mabel worked with added 
zeal after Allan left. 

"For," she said to herself, "he is coming back some 
time, and I must please him. How I wish 'twas so I 
could study music ! He loves that as much as I do, and 
he said his cousin was going abroad to perfect herself 
in it. I wonder if there is no way for me to learn? 
I'll talk to mother about it, and maybe she can think 
of a plan. She always helps me." 

Not a tinge of envy was there in her heart toward 
the luckier girl ; her nature was too sunny and pure for 
that. While she was moving about the well-kept dairy, 
thinking of her plans, her brother appeared. 

"Are you too busy, Mab, to stop a while?" he asked. 
"I have to go to town to carry some things, and there 
is a seat on the wagon for you if you'll go. Mother 
said she could spare you, as you'd been real smart to- 
day, and I want to know if she meant you were lazy 
other days." 

She laughed pleasantly as she put the finishing 
touches to her work. 

"Run, now," her brother continued, "and get on the 
clothes you want to wear, and let's be off. Needn't take 
time to comb your hair, for it looks the same all the 
time. Let it be as it is." 

She was soon ready, and they rode merrily away, 
Mabel sitting straight and alert, occasionally giving 
Willie a sisterly punch to make him hold himself erect, 
and telling him that red hair and freckles were not as 
bad as stooped shoulders, for they couldn't be helped, 



'MABEL GORDON 15 

and round back, when not caused by illness, looked like 
pure laziness. 

Usually she sat on the wagon and waited for Willie 
to attend to his errands, but as they drove by the church 
on the quiet street they heard music, and Mabel turned 
to her brother, her face aglow. 

"Willie, do let me get out here and go in the 
church. I hear the organist practicing, and 'twould be 
so much nicer to wait there, and you could call for me. 
I know mother wouldn't care, and you don't need me, 
for the pony is gentle and will stand all right. You 
know 'tisn't often I ask favors, and 'twill be such pleas- 
ure to listen to the music till you are ready to go home. 
I won't keep you waiting when you call me." 

"Jump out, then," said he, "if you are sure mother 
won't care. You have so few pleasures you might en- 
joy this." 

With a joyous "thank you, brother," she sprang to 
the ground and went quietly into the church, seating 
herself where she would not be seen. The organist 
went on with the music till, at the close of a song, she 
heard a long-drawn sigh, and, turning to see whence 
it came, discovered Mabel, listening intently, her face 
lighted with rapture. 

Smiling kindly at the girl. Miss Lane said : 

"You are fond of music, I see, and a splendid lis- 
tener. I did not hear you come in." 

"You were playing so beautifully," said Mabel, as 
she approached the lady, "that I made no noise. I beg 
pardon for coming in at all, but the music was too 
sweet for me to resist." 

"And you are very welcome," replied Miss Lane. "It 
would be an inspiration to have such listeners all the 
time. Do you play?" 

"No, ma'am," the girl replied; "mother's piano was 
destroyed during the war, and we have never been able 
to buy an instrument since, and I live in the country 



16 MABEL GORDON 

you know, and not near any teacher. Then father 
could hardly spare money for me." 

"How would you like to take lessons from me?" 
\ asked Miss Lane. 

"From you!" exclaimed Mabel. "Oh, I should be 
so glad!" Then the look of delight died, and she 
added, "But you know I told you that father couldn't 
pay for music." 

Miss Lane noticed the expression of the changing 
face, and she said : 

"But can't we arrange it so that father's purse will 
not feel it? I have to live, and if the mother could 
spare me butter, eggs and other things I need your 
music won't be such a great expense." 

"Thank you, thank you, ma'am," the girl exclaimed 
in rapturous tones. "I'll tell mother of your offer, and 
she will help me. She always does." 

"A good mother you have, I know," said the lady. 
"Lay the matter before her, and if your parents agree 
you would do well to begin soon. You know where I 
live, and can come when it suits you best. I am or- 
ganist here, and I practice after school hours. Some 
day, perhaps, little girl, you will fill my place." 

"Ah, how nice 'twould be," sighed the child, "and 
how I thank you for your kindness! You shall have 
no trouble with me if they let me come." 

"I apprehend none," said the other. "Hark ! I hear 
someone calling you !" 

"It's Willie ; he was to call for me here. Good-bye, 
Miss Lane, till I see you. I'm going home to tell 
mother of my good fortune," and the happy child al- 
most flew out to her brother, who had disposed of his 
produce and was ready to return. 

"Had a pleasant time, sis?" he asked as she set- 
tled herself beside him. 

"Delightful!" she replied. "Oh, Willie, I am so 
happy." 



■MABEL GORDON 17 

"You look so, I declare. Just keep on being so and 
you'll be pretty in spite of freckles and red hair. Can't 
you tell a fellow what pleases you ?" 

"Not now," she said; "wait till I talk with mother 
and then I'll tell you." 

"I suppose father and I come in to the secrets only 
when we are needed to carry out you ladies' plans? 
I feel happy, too, for the things sold well, and by just 
rights, sis, some of the proceeds belong to you." 

"Mother will make that all right," she replied. "I 
am so glad you did well to-day." 

The conversation turned on other topics, and chatting 
merrily they soon reached home, when Mabel hurried 
to her mother with a request for a "talk." Mrs. Gor- 
don knew from her manner something unusual had oc- 
curred, so she answered : 

"Very well, but we must attend to several duties now, 
and after supper we can talk satisfactorily." 

Mabel worked with a will till the tasks were accom- 
plished, and they were seated by the spacious fire place, 
wherein blazed some lightwood fagots, for the evening 
was cool, and Mr. Gordon loved to watch the cheer- 
ful flame, and he could enjoy his pipe more then." 

Seizing a time when Mr. Gordon was out of the room 
Mabel told her mother of Miss Lane's offer, and of 
her own intense desire to study music, and Mrs. Gordon 
said, as she smiled fondly at the eager, young face 
lifted pleadingly to her : 

"I am willing, dear, and will gladly spare to Miss 
Lane the things she is so kind as to let us pay with, 
but how will you manage to get to the village regu- 
larly ? Father and Willie are too busy most of the time 
to carry you." 

"I can fix that if you and father will consent. It is 
only three miles to the village, and I can walk that dis- 
tance in good weather. My work can be so arranged 



18 MABEL GORDON. 

as not to interfere, and if you knew how I long to 
learn I know you would help me," pleaded the girl. 

"My darling child," said the mother, "I will do all 
in my power to aid you. I feel our inability to educate 
you as you should be, and you are such a faithful little 
creature you deserve more than is done for you. Ah, 
if that cruel war had not come you could have every 
accomplishment." 

"Never mind," said the girl, "I'll accomplish my- 
self, and enjoy it far more. Now I am going to my 
room to study a while, and you talk it over with father. 
Don't sit up late, please, mother, for you are not well, 
and need rest," and with a fond kiss the girl took her 
lighted candle and went away. 

When Mr. Gordon entered the room he saw the low 
chair near his wife was vacant, and he asked for Mabel. 

"She has gone off to study a little while," replied his 
wife. "Poor child, she is so anxious to learn, and her 
advantages are so limited, I feel sad about her." 

Mr. Gordon's face clouded. 

"Yes," he said; "it grieves me to think our only 
daughter must grow up without the education her birth 
demands. She would take all one could give. Even 
as it is she will appear well, but it hurts me to see her 
brave efforts. Ah, if I were what I was years ago, 
how different life would be to our children !" 

"True, dear; but don't fret," comforted his wife. 
"Let us trust God to bring out everything right, and 
some day we'll see the silver lining to the cloud that 
has overshadowed us so long." 

"May be so," he assented, sighing. 

For a while they were silent ; then he asked : 

"Margaret, what became of that young chap, Har- 
vey, who used to seem to fancy Mabel, and who came 
about us often?" 

"He has gone away," replied Mrs. Gordon. "His 



MABEL GORDON 19 

cousin's health improved very much while at the 
springs." 

"Well, I'm glad he has left," said her husband. "I 
can't forget that he belongs to a people that ruined 
us all. My noble boys would not now be in their 
graves but for such as he. I am glad Mabel was no 
older, and likely will forget him. I couldn't bear for 
her to love there." 

"Dear husband, you are too hard, I think," the wife 
spoke, gently. "I, too, grieve for our boys; but he 
lost a father then. Both sides suffered; ours is not 
the only home made desolate by that cruel strife be- 
tween brothers. I rather liked Mr. Harvey." 

"What was his loss compared to ours?" inquired 
Mr. Gordon. "He has v/ealth left to make life pleas- 
ant; he doesn't see the lone chimneys of his ancestral 
home standing like sentinels over the ashes of that 
loved home. He has his luxurious house to go to, while 
my children — the only ones we have left us — are reared 
in this humble home — my overseer's cottage. Oh, wife, 
it is hard, hard for me to feel as you say I should !" 

"The grace of our Lord can overcome these feel- 
ings, dear, and remember, we were thankful for such 
a comfortable house as this the day ours was burned, 
and " 

"Yes, thankful then to have our lives spared," re- 
joined Mr. Gordon, bitterly. 

"Let us talk of something pleasanter now," said the 
lady, "and try, dear, to feel less bitter toward those 
who so cruelly wronged us. Let me lay before you a 
plan of Mabel's," and she proceeded to tell him of 
their conversation. 

"My poor child!" exclaimed the father. "Again 
comes in thoughts of our wrongs, and even your char- 
ity cannot excuse them. Just think of your handsome 
piano split into kindling wood, and which might now 
be Mabel's; and see the sacrifices she is compelled to 



20 MABEL GORDON 

make! With all her duties here, she must often walk 
into the village to get to an instrument. I will take 
her when not too busy, but how can she go other 
times?" 

"She said that could be arranged if we would con- 
sent, and I think we can trust to her resources. All 
she seems to need now is our permission, and she is 
such a patient, helpful child we are blessed much in 
our daughter, so you see we have cause for grati- 
tude." 



MABEL GORDON 21 



CHAPTER III. 

The next day Mrs. Gordon met Mabel's eager ques- 
tions with the required permission from both parents. 
"And now, daughter, tell me how you will manage 
when father and Willie are too busy to take you?" said 
her mother. 

"Oh, don't you worry about that," her child replied, 
smiling. "I am going to see old Mammy, and she will 
help me out. Please fix something nice for me to take 
to her. I will not be gone long." 

Mrs. Gordon smiled kindly, and went about getting 
up some "goodies" to send to the old negress, whom 
she had always found faithful, and who still clung to 
them, glad to occupy a little house on their land, where 
she was cared for by her daughter and tenderly looked 
after by "de fambly," as she called the Gordons. She 
took great pleasure in telling of the past grandeur of 
her "white folks," and no one bewailed their condition 
more than she. 

Mabel found the old woman sitting near the door 
of her humble home, and a warm welcome she gave her 
"chile." "Cum in, honey," she cried; "it duz my ole 
eyes good ter see yer lookin' so well an' happy. Yer 
mus' fetch good news ter-day ! Viney, git little missy 
a cheer an' tek de basket an' empty it. What yer got 
ter tell Dicey? I see dar's sump'n on yer min'." 

"You are right. Mammy," answered Mabel, as she 
handed the basket to Viney and seated herself near the 
old negress. "I have something you must help me do, 
and which I am so anxious about. You have never 



22 MABEL GORDON 

failed me In all my life, and you'll help me now, won't 
you?" 

"Dat I will ef it in my powah," responded Mammy, 
her dark face lit up with anticipation and a sense of 
her importance. 

Then Mabel told her all her plan. 

"You see, I could walk to the village when father 
or Willie couldn't take me," she said, "and I thought 
if you could spare Viney sometimes you could stay 
with mother while we were gone, and let her go with 
me. You'll do this for me, won't you. Mammy?" 

"Dis an' mo', too, my baby," replied the woman. 
"I duz enjy gwine ter see Mis' Marget, for she alius 
got sump'n good ter eat, an' den it'll be heppen' my 
chile ter larn. Uh! sum er dese days I'll see yer a 
gran' lady lak yer longs ter be. Effen dem vilyuns had 
er listen' ter me yer'd er had ez fine er planner ez enny 
lady in de Ian', but la ! dey nebber notis ole nigga lak 
me den, an' sot fire to Mahster's fine house an' bu'nt it 
up bodaciously. Po' Mis' Marget des sot wid her arms 
roun' you an' yer brudder an' look lak her heart gAvine 
break. Dem wuz awful times, honey," and the old 
woman groaned and swayed her body as she talked. 

"Well, we can't help matters by recalling them." 
said Mabel. "Of course, I remember the horror of it, 
though I was young, and I'll never forget father's 
grief and anger. He can't bear to speak of it yet. 
Now tell me how your aches are getting on." 

"I'se better, thank de Lawd, honey, do' when de win' 
shif's it mek my bones ache pow'ful. Sumtimes I 
feared I wun't be hyur long, an' I duz want ter stay 
twel you an' Willie is dun rais' an' settle in life. You 
mus' put all yo min' in yer work, so when dat likely 
young man I seed yer walkin' wid cum back he'll fin' 
yer 'nudder sort frum de little gal he lef. I 'spec' he^ll 
be atter 'swadin' my chile away den," and the old 
woman chuckled heartily. 



MABEL GORDON 23 

Mabel smiled as she answered quietly: 

"I am too young for him to care in such a way for 
me; besides, his pretty cousin is with him all the 
time, and if he cares for anyone 'twill be her." 

"Yer call her putty wid all dat paint an' powder on 
her face, an' no wais' at all ?" queried Mammy. "She 
putmc in min' er a was' mo' dan anyt'ing else. Go 'way, 
Missy ! ef he can't see mo' beauty in you he sho' is blin'. 
But I don' want yer ter love him, caze he mought be 
kin ter de one what had our house bu'nt, an' I jes' 
can't gie my cawnsent ter dat." 

"Don't trouble yourself over what is not likely to 
happen," said Mabel. "I am going to study about my 
books and music. You'll go with me when I need 
you, Viney?" 

" 'Deed I will, little Missy, an' I'll tek az good care 
er you az Mammy would. I monstus proud yer gwine 
tek lessons same ez dem town gals," and Viney's white 
teeth showed in a broad smile. 

"I'll not need you every time," said Mabel ; "for 
when the pony isn't busy I can ride him. You know 
he is gentle and loves me." 

"Yo' ain' gwine stop twel yo' neck is broke," said 
Mammy. "I seed yer ridin' de udder day, an' thought 
de boss wuz runnin' away twel I heerd yer laff. You 
chillun iz ben skeerin' me nigh 'bout ter death all yer 
life. Effen Viney did'n' keep my hair wrop so tight it 
'ud rize on eend menny er time." 

Mabel laughed as she replied : 

"I don't want to worry you, but it would certainly 
be a funny sight to see your hair do that. You'd look 
like some of those pictures in that book of travels we 
have." 

"Dat's one Willie fetch hyur an' say he want ter 
show me de picters er sum er my cousins in Affiky, 
signifyin' dat I look lak dem hidjus things, an' me no 
mo' kin ter 'em dan he iz, fer I bin a Gawd'n all my 



24 MABEL GORDON 

life; wuz bawn on dis plantation," said the nurse, a 
trifle indignantly. 

"He was just teasing you," consoled Mabel, "for he 
really loves you. You ought to have heard him when 
that Bates boy laughed at us for loving you." 

"Dat's dat lown-down white trash what's moved 
'bout hyur lately, an' becawz dey's got plenty money 
acts lak dey own de airth. Nebber had no black ones, 
an' doan' know how ter treat 'em now. I wish you 
chillun' did'n' haf ter 'soshiate wid sech trash," was the 
wrathful reply. 

"Well, I sha'nt be thrown with them much now," 
said Mabel, "so comfort your proud old heart. Let 
me have the basket, please, Viney, and I'll go. What 
a pretty brood of little chicks you have here!" she ex- 
claimed as a hen bustled proudly by the door with her 
downy brood. 

"Dat de chick'n you gie me," said the old woman, 
"an' she de smahtes' hen, to be sho'." 

"She favor you, little Missy," said Viney. 

"Me!" cried Mabel. "Why Viney, where do you 
see any resemblance ? It must be that she is speckled." 

"She so brisk an' go 'bout de yard so cheerful, an* 
now she hatter work she so earnes'," explained Viney. 

"Willie said dat his chick'n," said Mammy, to which 
Mabel indignantly replied : 

"I wouldn't claim or give away anything not my 
own. 'Twas his at first, and was so weak it nearly 
died trying to keep up with the mother, and he gave 
it to me. It got so bad in the house that when I wanted 
to give you a hen, mother suggested Pet. Willie 
should tell the whole truth." 

"What gwine cum er dat boy?" asked Mammy. "He 
so kin' hearted, a body 'bleege ter love him, an' he do 
torment us all sumtimes. He cum by hyur de udder 
day on de way fum de pastur', where he bin to cut 
Brownie loose when she hung herse'f by de hawns, an' 



MABEL GORDON 25 

Viney wuz feelin* po'ly, so he stop an' cut us er big 
tu'n er wood. Den he axed me ef I did'n' want er 
new kin' er terbakker, an' tuck my pipe an' fill it up, 
an' got er live coal outen de ashes, an' I draw'd an' 
draw'd twel my jaws ache, an' it wouldn't smoke; den 
I tuck it ter loosen it sum, an' 'twuz nigh full er tu'nup 
seed." 

"That was a bad trick to play on you," said Mabel, 
though she laughed. 

"But he cum back next day," continued Mammy, 
"and fetch me de nicest kin' er bought terbakker, so I 
had ter let it all go. Yer gwine, honey? Cum ergin' 
soon," and as Mabel promised to do so, and walked 
away, the old woman broke forth : 

"De blessedes' chile in dis worl' ! I feared she neb- 
ber gwine be rais'. Fetch me sum er dat vittles she 
brung, Viney; my appertite dun cum ter me," and she 
proceeded to prove her words, though she interspersed 
the repast with grunts and groans, "thank de Lawd!" 
and praise of her "white folks." 

Mabel walked quickly homeward, eager to report 
her success in overcoming the obstacles in her way. 
Then she thought of Allan and his promise to return 
when she should be an accomplished woman. No 
doubt of him entered her mind, and she determined 
to be all he had prophesied for her, save becoming 
beautiful — that was hopeless, she believed, but a fine 
character was in her reach, and she would satisfy 
him. 

She had suggested to Mammy the possibility of his 
marrying his cousin, of whom he seemed fond, but in 
her heart she did not believe he would marry anyone ; 
he would come back her kind, genial friend and 
comrade, and they would take up life happ}- in each 
other's society. Their tastes were alike, and she knew 
he enjoyed the friendship very much, for he had said 
to her, "I am a different being when with you, little 



oa MABEL GORDON. 



4'o 



j^irl, for I can drop all sham and the silly ways I de- 
spise. You are so sincere and pure, you compel a man 
lo be honest. Mabel, you could not be false !" 

"I would not," she said. Mother and father have 
taught me to scorn such, and it would kill them for 
me to be untrue," and the dark, pansy-blue eyes looked 
full in his face with such resolution as he had never 
seen in one so young. 

"And some day you will give that pure heart into 
a man's keeping, and if he should prove false, what 
then, ma belief Would you die of a broken heart, or 
become a bitter, cynical woman?" 

"I don't know," she said. "That is so far off I need 
not think of it yet, and if it ever comes I'll pray the 
Lord to give me strength to bear it." 

"And will He?" asked Allan. 

"Oh, yes," she answered, confidently, and seeing her 
faith he said no more on that, but after a silence he 
spoke softly : 

"You are too pure and good for earth, little girl; 
but I want you to stay here, for the world would lose 
a great charm for me if you were gone." 

"You are so kind to me," she replied, "that if you 
were gone I should feel lost. Willie laughs at me 
sometimes, and hides my books and don't want me to 
study, but he loves me if he does worry me lots." 

"That is strange love, isn't it?" he asked. "If I 
had a sister I think I should be kinder. If he bothers 
you too much tell me and I'll punch his head." 

"Willie is quite strong," she said, laughing. 

"And I am not feeble," he replied, "and my muscles 
are in fine order. See how easily I lift you over this 
bad place in the road, and you are quite a substantial 
little body. There, now, you are all right, and I must 
leave you. We will meet again, ma belle," and, lifting 
his hat, he left her. 

'I* 'n 3K ?|^ ^^ 'J^ ^W J|t 



MABEL GORDON 27 

Not many days after meeting Miss Lane Mabel be- 
gan her study, and no pupil was ever more faithful. 
She was very apt anyway, and the purpose she held 
caused her to progress finely, to her teacher's delight 
as well as her own, and time flew by as it does to those 
who work. 

The faithful Viney reported wonderful things to 
Mammy, to which the old soul listened deliglitedly. 

"Did'n' I alius tell yer she de smahtes' chile 'bout 
hyur?" asked the old nurse. "She gM'ine tek de shine 
offen dem udder gals. She er Gazvd'n, an' dey is peo- 
ple. I bless de Lawd I'se one, too. I bawn one on 
'em; I ain' no bought trash, ner you ain' needer. You 
libs whar yo' bawn, an' de great Mahster willin' we 
gwine stay hyur twel He git ready ter sen' de charrit 
atter us. Dese fool niggas roun' hyur can go to Libery 
ef dey Avants ter ; Dicey gwine stay wid dem she knows. 
I boun' heap er dem what went away 'ud cum back ef 
dey could." 

"Little missy read 'bout it ter me," said Viney. 
"She gittin' putty, Mammy," whereat the old woman 
waxed wrathful. 

"Look hyur, chile, don' yer signify she ebber bin 
ugly. I nuss dat baby, an' partly rais' her, an' de time 
ain' nebber bin when she 'peared ugly ter me, an' my 
tas' iz des az good az enny young nigga's." 

"I did'n' mean no harm," apologized the daughter. 
"I knows she dear ter you ez yer own chile, an' I love 
her, too. She same az er preacher whar de gawspel is 
consarned. She 'splain er heap ter me de las' time we 
went ter de village." 

"She gwine 'cordin' ter her raisin'," said Mammy,, 
"an' she g\vine keep in de broad way." 

"Te, he," snickered Viney. "Mammy, don' you know 
no mo' 'bout scripter dan dat?" 

"What I say fer yer ter giggle at, gal ?" demanded 
her mother. "Tiz de broad way, fer it leads ter glory 



28 MABEL GORDON 

eberlasting, an' it boun' ter be broad, so many is trablin' 
in it. I gwine long dat road, bless de Lawd, an' sum 
day dis po' ole pain-racked body is gwine drap all its 
aches an' go sweepin' in de heabenly gates," and Mam- 
my began to clap her hands and sing, then to shout, 
Viney looking on in awed silence till the old woman 
paused for want of breath and to wipe her shining 
face. After a brief rest she said : "Gimme my stick 
now. I gwine tub de house, a while. I feels de need o' 
sump'n stranknin', an' maybe Mahster '11 gie mc ur 
dram. I 'clar I kin hardly git up when down. Do, 
Lawd, be mussiful tub po' ole sinner," and with many 
grunts and groans she made her way across the field 
to the house, where she always found a welcome and 
something to "suit her appertite." 



MABEL GORDON 29 



CHAPTER IV. 

Though engrossed in her studies and duties, Mabel 
often thought of her absent friend, and wondered if 
he would be pleased with her. She loved study for the 
sake of knowledge gained thereby, but Allan had 
awakened her ambition and determined her to excel, 
and at twenty years of age she was a highly cultivated 
young lady. 

And beauty had come to her, for added to the noble 
expression of her face were other charms. The "un- 
ruly hair" clustered in soft curls about the fair brow; 
the freckles had faded, and the deep, purplish-blue eyes 
Allan admired in her early girlhood were indeed beau- 
tiful. 

While her appearance had changed, she still kept 
the simple faith and artless manner of the girl he left 
at the bars that spring evening, years ago. Suitors 
came in time, but to all she gave a firm though kind 
refusal. Allan would come some day and they would 
find life full of joy. And so believing she waited con- 
tentedly. 

Miss Lane had given up the organ to her, for the 
pupil had passed beyond the teacher. 

One bright Sabbath day in early winter, when she 
felt unusually happy and enjoyed the services with all ' 
her heart, as she turned from the organ to join her 
father who awaited her, she noticed going out of the 
church door a lady and gentleman not belonging to 
the regular congregation. He turned to speak to some- 
one and she caught a good view of his face, when her 
heart gave a big throb. 



30 MABEL GORDON 

"It is Allan!" she said to herself. "He has come 
back — to me." 

She managed to answer calmly those who spoke to 
her as she made her way to her father, who helped her 
to a seat, and they were well started before he said : 

"Daughter, did you see Mr. Harvey this morning? 
He was in church." 

"Yes, sir; and the lady with him I supposed to be 
his cousin, Lucile," she replied, glad that she had put 
on a thick veil and hidden her face. Not for worlds 
would she have had anyone see her, for at the mere 
mention of Allan's name the telltale color mantled the 
fair cheeks. 

"Cousin, and wife, too," responded Air. Gordon. 

"Father!" she exclaimed, "you must be mistaken." 

"I heard him say so," maintained the old man. "Her 
health is bad, and he has come to the Springs, where 
she was much benefited years ago." 

"I remember that the water did her good then. She 
has always been delicate," the poor girl forced herself 
to answer quietly, while her heart sickened and every- 
thing became dark to her. 

Poor fool that she had been to let a few sweet words 
take hold of her as his had done, and cause her to 
build such hopes as she found then that she had done. 
Now all that love she unwittingly gave him must be 
crushed if it took her life, and her parents must not 
know of her suffering. Only One could help her, and 
she breathed a silent prayer to Him. The time had 
come of which Allan spoke, and she had said her God 
would give her strength for the trial. 

She wanted to steal off where no one could see her, 
and pour out her soul in prayer, but when they reached 
home there were duties to attend to, so she stifled her 
feelings and quietly helped. 

At dinner Mr. Gordon told his wife of Harvey's re- 
turn. 



MABEL GORDON 31 

"Did you see him, Mabel ?" asked her mother. 

"Yes, ma'am, and his cousin also. They are mar- 
ried now," she replied steadily. 

"Indeed ! Well, I am not surprised, for I heard she 
was very fond of him. Do you feel like going with me 
to see Mrs. Smith. Mabel? I heard to-day she was 
quite sick and needing attention, so I can't wait till to- 
morrow." 

"Please excuse me this afternoon, mother, and take 
Willie. I have a severe headache and would like to 
rest. Brother, won't you take my place?" 

"I would be glad to go, sis, but there is a little busi- 
ness for me to look after to-day," replied her brother. 

Mr. Gordon looked at him smilingly. 

"Business to-day, my son? Are you a Sabbath- 
breaker?" 

"You can hardly call me that, sir. I am better 
trained. Mab knows what it is. Nellie Bruce scarcely 
spoke to me to-day, and I must find out what is wrong. 
Somebody is getting in my way, I think, and it must 
be stopped." 

"So, wife, it falls to my lot to escort you," said Mr. 
Gordon. 

"And then you must lose your nap, but, dear, you 
know the poor woman is sick," said his wife. 

"Yes, and I know, too, your slumbers would not be 
sweet to you to-night if you failed to relieve suffer- 
ing. So, my good lady, fix up your goodies and get 
ready and I'll take you. Mabel doesn't look bright, 
and needs a nap worse than I, while this young man 
has to look after a case in Cupid's court. Well, son, 
I know how it was with me at your age, so you are ex- 
cusable." 

"Thank you, sir. I will not be out late. Come, 
Mab, and brush me up a little. I must be all right 
to-day." 

"Go by Mammy's house, my son, and take her this," 



33 MABEL GORDON 

said Mrs. Gordon, giving him a package. "The old 
creature always looks for some of our dinner." 

"And she isn't disappointed often, eh, wife'* AVell, 
she was faithful when the others proved false and she 
shall not want." 

Mrs. Gordon watched her boy as he rode away. He 
was a handsome fellow, and sat his horse well, and to 
her motherly eyes a boy to be proud of, but she sighed 
as she turned to her husband, saying: 

"It seems but yesterday since he was a child, and 
now he is a man with manly hopes. How our children 
grow away from us !" 

"We keeps ours right well," comforted her hus- 
band. "I am glad Mabel seems so content. 'Twill be 
a sad day for us when she leaves." 

"I trust we may keep her," said the mother fer- 
vently. "I don't feel easy when she complains. She 
is so patient!" 

"She sang too much to-day, I reckon, and brought 
on that headache. She will be well after a good nap. 
Get ready, wife; the afternoons are short," replied Mr. 
Gordon. 

Mrs. Gordon finished her preparations, then went 
quietly into their "best room" to see that the wood fire 
was doing well, and to throw a blanket over the daugh- 
ter so dear to her. 

"I'll be well when you return, mother, so don't worry 
at all about me," said Mabel. "I'm. going to sleep 
right ofif." 

But sleep did not come at her bidding, and lying 
there thinking of her shattered hopes Mabel heard a 
step on the porch floor, and, rising wearily to answer 
a rap, she stood face to face with Allan. 

"You !" she exclaimed, almost recoiling. 

"Yes, I," he said, smiling joyously, and extending 
his hand. "Have you forgotten your old friend ? Has 
my little comrade no welcome for me?" 



MABEL GORDON 33 

"I was startled," she said, and, remembering it was 
her home, she asked him in, though she was trembhng 
so she could scarcely stand. 

He walked confidently into the pretty room and 
seated himself with easy grace in a chair near the one 
she sank into. Travel and time had developed him 
into a very handsome man, and now, with flushed 
cheeks and eyes brilliant with joy, he seemed to her 
like some radiant vision. 

''Where is the family?' he asked. "I want to see 
them all. Tell me you are glad to see me, Mab, for I 
am overjoyed at the sight of you. And you have veri- 
fled my prediction and gone beyond my wildest fancy. 
I could hardly believe that beautiful young lady pre- 
siding so gracefully at the organ to-day was the same 
little girl to whom I bade a sorrowful good-bye at the 
pasture bars. Did you miss me much, Mabel, and did 
you want me to come back ? You have studied hard, I 
know, and are you ready to take your place in life ?" 

'T really don't know just what my place is," she 
replied. 'T try to do my duty all the time and trust to 
Providence to lead me aright." 

"The same trustful little soul," he said, smiling ten- 
derly. "Ah, Mabel, it had been better for me if I 
could have felt as you do !" 

"Tell me of your stay abroad," she said. 

"Let us not speak of that now," he answered. "I 
want to talk about you. Have you no plans for the 
future?" 

"A lady whose husband was ill at the Springs wants 
me to go to her as her daughter, but my parents can't 
spare me. She says she is coming for me some time. 
She is Mrs. Rowland, of New York. Perhaps you 
know her?" replied Mabel. 

"Mrs. George Rowland! Certainly I know her. 
Her husband is dead, and she lives with her brother, 



34 MABEL GORDON 

Colonel Chester. The other brother is in an asylum 
for the insane." 

"Does insanity run in the family?" she asked . 

"Oh, no! Louis and Rudolf Chester were twins, 
?.nd perfectly devoted to each other, and Louis fell in 
love with a young lady who seemed to love him dearly, 
but a richer man came along and she jilted Mr. Ches- 
ter for him, and he went crazy, and Rudolf became a 
woman-hater. He is a very handsome, brilliant man, 
but cold as ice to all ladies. I don't remember ever 
seeing him notice a woman more than politeness re- 
quires. He is very fond of his sister, who has been 
like a mother to him, she being much older than the 
boys. I never saw a man love his brother as devotedly 
as Colonel Chester loves poor Louis." 

"And he went mad because a girl jilted him! I 
didn't know a man could love like that," replied Mabel. 

"You didn't know men could love so much ! Why, 
Mabel, what do you mean ? Certainly we love as deeply 
as it is possible for any creatures to love." 

"So you loved your cousin devotedly? She must be 
a happy woman to be your wife." 

"My wife!" said he. "How do you know I have 
one?" 

"I heard it to-day. Isn't it true?" 

"Yes," he said, "I am married, and I want to tell 
you how it happened." 

"Why tell me? I can guess very easily. It was 
natural you should prefer her to any other," she said 
very quietly. 

"But I must tell you," he insisted. "Lucile and I 
were joint heirs to an uncle, and he wanted us to in- 
herit together all he left, and if we did not marry we 
forfeited all. She seemed to love me very dearly, and 
as I knew not then what love was, the arrangement 
suited me very well. Besides, I needed the money, for 
I could not get along without plenty of that." 



MABEL GORDON 35 

"And you sold yourself?" 

His face burned, and his eyes fell under her clear 
glance. 

"Yes," he admitted; "but when I did it I did not 
know what love was ; now anything could be given up 
for freedom." 

"Hush !" she exclaimed in horror. "Don't talk so. 
Think how miserable your wife would be if she knew 
you felt as you do." 

"I must speak," he said. "My feelings overpower 
me, and you must know who taught me what love is. 
'Twas a little girl, and had I known at that time what 
was in store for me I would have won my darling 
then, but it was not revealed to me till to-day, when I 
sat in church and listened to your sweet voice and 
watched your dear face. I didn't mean to ever let you 
know of this, but since I've seen you here, and felt the 
charm of your presence, I realize life to me is nothing 
unblest by your love. No, I won't hush! You shall 
hear me, though you spurn me from you." 

Leaning forward, he caught her hand in his. 

"Oh, Mabel, you once cared for me — I know you 
did — and my love for you is so deep, so intense, you 
must return it. Dearest, I am rich, and can give you 
all that heart may wish. Go with mc to the city and 
be my soul-bride. I will care for Lucile and let her 
want for no attention, but I want 5'ou to go to when I 
am tired of everything. You are a part of myself. Oh, 
Mabel, don't took so horrified. Other men live thus, 
and why not I? Will you go, love, and bless my life? 
I would offer you honorable marriage if I could, but I 
am fettered, while all my heart is yours. Will you go 
with me? Speak, Mabel." 

His words had come in such a torrent, and she was 
so stunned with surprise she could hardly speak at first ; 
then, raising both hands and with a face filled with 
horror, she almost moaned: 



36 MABEL GORDON 

"My God ! Oh, my God !" and the agony and en- 
treaty in her voice pierced the man before her. 

"Mabel! Oh, Mabel." he cried, "don't look like 
that! don't turn from me in horror! I don't mean to 
hurt you. I love you so dearly I couldn't help asking 
you to go with me. Dearest, hear me 1" 

"Go with you into sin!" she cried. "Leave all I 
hold dear for such a life! Oh, Allan, yon told me to 
keep my purity and truth always, and you are the only 
one to suggest wrong to me. You are trying to make 
me false to myself, my parents and my God. You are 
false to your wife; false to everything noble. Leave 
me! Go where I will never see you again. Oh, that 
the friend I loved and trusted should fall so low. Dear 
Lord, forgive him this awful sin, and be merciful, oh ! 
be merciful !" 

"Mabel," he said, his voice hoarse and face deadly 
white, "don't drive me from you. I meant no harm. I 
didn't intend letting you know I cared for you other 
than a friend, but when I saw you, and realized all 
you are to me, my strength gave way. I forgot every- 
thing save the desire to make you mine. Forgive me, 
please, and say you'll let me come to see you some- 
times. I will be a man, and in no way pain or insult 
you. Only let me come to see you. Think how I suf- 
fer, and be kind." 

"No," she said, through lips drawn with suffering; 
"never again. You are dead to me. My dear friend 
is dead, and in his place is a man I can't trust. Your 
stay abroad has not improved you. Oh, if you had 
never gone!" 

He buried his face in his hands and groaned : 

"If I had not ! Oh, if I had not gone. What would 
I not give to be to you what I once was !" 

"Leave me," she said, "and if you can face your 
wife go to her. She is to be pitied, while I — oh, it 
would be sweet to lie down and die." 



MABEL GORDON 37 

"Don't talk so, Mabel," he pleaded. "You cannot 
suffer more than I, for I have lost your respect and 
friendship, while I love you hopelessly. Tell me good- 
bye and I will go back and take up my burden alone." 

He took her hands that were so cold they frightened 
him, and almost crushed them in his burning palms, 
then raised them to his mouth. 

"Good-bye," he whispered with quivering lips. 
"Gods! but this is worse than death!" 

Releasing her hands, he strode away, while she 
sought her room and fell on her bed in an agony of 
grief, and when her parents returned they found her 
ill indeed. She could not tell her mother the true 
cause of the attack lest her father should learn it and 
in his wrath do something terrible. Her only conso- 
lation was in prayer, and it was well she had a refuge, 
a comforter w^ho could strengthen her then. Allan had 
told her that her purity and sincerity attracted him 
most, and she must be the noble woman her childhood 
gave promise of. Now, because he claimed to love her, 
he could ask her to lead a life of fearful sin — could ask 
her to give up all she held dear on earth and her hope 
of heaven. And he said other men led the life he pro- 
posed. Could it be true, and could she ever trust any 
man again? Her idol had fallen and dragged others 
down with him. 

Had he died she could have mourned him as a sweet 
memory, but this — this death of all that was high and 
noble and pure in him was so bitter, no wonder she 
shuddered and sickened; that it was days before she 
could take her place in the household, and that her 
white face and listless manner alarmed the watchful 
mother. 



38 MABEL GORDONi 



CHAPTER V. 

"The weather has turned so cold," said Mrs. Gordon 
at breakfast one morning, "that we must look after 
Mammy. She suffers from rheumatism anyhow, and 
these changes are bad on her." 

"Til go over and see what she needs," volunteered 
Mabel. 

"Do you feel able, daughter?" asked Mr. Gordon. 
"We can't let you risk yourself even for your beloved 
nurse." 

"It will do me good to get out of the house a 
while," replied Mabel, "besides, I'm getting spoiled 
and selfish, and it is time for me to think of others." 

"You don't know anything about selfishness," said 
the mother. "Don't walk fast and bring on that head- 
ache again. I was very anxious, and if it returns will 
call in the doctor." 

"I don't need him," said the girl quietly. "Now, 
while I put on my wraps you prepare something nice 
for me to take Mammy. I won't be back right away. 
She will want me to stay and talk and read for her." 

She was soon ready, and started with full hands, glad 
to get out in the fresh, crisp air. 

IMammy's eyes were getting dim. but she saw at 
once that her "chile" had been ill and that the young 
face was sad. 

"I mi'ty po'ly, honey," she said, in answer to Mabel's 
greeting. "I ain' been well 'tall, an' I miss yo' pow'ful. 
It been long time tub me since yer cum. Whut de mat- 
tah dat de sunshine gone outen yer face? Iz yer sick, 
ur iz yer in trouble? Ef yer iz, tell me lak yer uster 
when yo' er little gal an' got inter botherments. 



MABEL GORDON 39 

Young Mr. Harvey dun cum ter de Springs. Iz yer 
seen him, an' iz he az Hkely az he wuz befo' he went 
ter furrin parts?" 

"Oh, Mammy," exclaimed the girl, "don't mention 
him, please !" 

The old woman studied her face a moment, then she 
asked : 

"Chile, whut yer mean? I feared he hung roun' you 
too much when he 'bout hyur, an' den yer so young I 
hoped he nebber got yer heart. Now ef he haz hu't 
you I hopes he'll nebber have anudder hour o' peace. 
De fus' time I sees him I low tub tell him jes' whut I 
think er him. Dis iz near 'bout bad az burnin' de 
house, an' he ain' wuff greevin' ober, an' I 'lows ter 
tell him er his meanness," and for a time Mammy's 
indignation got the better of her rheumatism. 

"You must not do that," said Mabel. "He can't 
help matters being as they are, and he musn't know I 
care at all. He is married now, and it is a sin even to 
think of him, and I do want to keep from wrong of 
any kind." 

"Dat you do," assented Mammy. "Yer de bes' chile 
I knows, an' de Lawd not g~\vine let you suffer long, 
fer He promises ter be wid dem dat trustes Him," and 
rising with difficulty from her chair, the old woman 
hobbled to her "chest," a long box with leather hinges, 
and carefully took out a bible which she handed to 
Mabel. "Heer, chile," she said, "dis iz de place tub fin' 
help. Dis blessed book got lot o' comfort in it fer sick 
an' fiicted folks. Read whar it talk 'bout 'bidin' under 
de wings, fer dat whar yo' stays. Why, honey, how 
3^er reck'n ole IMammy 'd stan' all dese aches an' pains 
if de Lawd didn' help me. an' He'll do az much fo' you. 
He kin heal er wounded heart if it iz broke ober er 
triflin' man. Read on, now," and, folding her hands, 
Mammy settled herself to listen reverently, her tur- 
baned head nodding assent, while she gave vent occa- 



40 MABEL GORDON 

sionally to low-toned ejaculations of "Bless de Lawd !" 

And it comforted Mabel to see her rejoicing over 
the precious truths and hear her faith in them. 

Mammy saw the young face grew more cheerful as 
she read, for she opened her eyes once in a while to 
watch the effect, and when she thought best, she said : 

"Stop readin', baby; yer head ain' non' too well yet. 
Shet de book an' let's tawk sum now. Yer feels better 
dan yer did. Put yer head in my lap an' let me pet 
yer lak I uster when yer wuz ailin'. Yo'll nebber be 
nuttin' but er baby fer me. Set in dis low cheer by 
me an' lay yer head on my knee. My apun's clean." 

Mabel smilingly did as she was told, for she was in 
a condition to want just such caressing, and the old 
nurse's touch on her head recalled her childhood days. 
After a silence she said : 

"Mammy, what would you say to my going away 
from here?" 

"Eh!" exclaimed the woman; "yer not wantin' ter 
leab us, honey? How Mahster and Mis' Marget gwine 
spar' yer, an' how I gwine git on widout yer ?" 

"You know Nellie has promised to marry Willie in 
the springtime, and as my parents already love her she 
can fill my place at home. As for you, you dear old 
soul, I don't know how you'll make out, and I hate to 
leave you, but I feel that it is best for me to go away, at 
least for some time." 

"I unnerstan'," said Mammy, "an' I'll tawk ter 
mistis an' try ter 'swade her dat yer needs er change. 
Yer duz look mi'ty peaked an' white, but dis place 
gwine be lonesum az er graveyard when yo' goes off. 
I'll pray fer de Lawd ter guide yer an' fetch yer back in 
peace. Cum often an' we'll read de blessed scripters 
an' tawk." 

"I feel better since talking with you," said Mabel, 
"and if I do go away I'll miss you sadly, for who will 
humor me as you do ?" 



MABEL GORDON 41 

"I dunno, honey," replied Mammy. "Dey ain' no- 
body lak ole Mammy, an' yer seem ter me same az my 
own blood. Menny er time I'm hel' yer in dese arms 
an' walked de flo' hours at a time when yer sick. An 
now yer gwine leab me. Well, I s'poze it natterel, an' 
in dis case sorter 'bleegin' ; fer yer'll git ober yer hurt 
quicker effen yo' quit stayin' where yer can' see nottin' 
but whut yer think er dat 'sateful creeter. It'll teat 
my heart ter see yer go, but sum day, honey, weze 
goin' whar dar'll be no sorrerful partin's ner achii^ 
hearts, an' ef yer beautiful home wuz 'stroyed, yer'll 
hab one so glor'us it'll mek up ter all. I'll pray fer 
yer. Yo' gwine now ? Tell mistis I mi'tily 'bleeged ter 
her fer de wine an' 'intment, an' fer 'tendin' ter my 
'stresses, an' tell Willie my woodpile gittin' scace." 

Promising to remind her brother and to return soon, 
Mabel left. The old nurse stood in the doorway watch- 
ing her with anxious eyes, for the girl walked with a 
languid step, far different from her usual light, quick 
tread, and Mammy shook her head in strong disap- 
proval, muttering something about "wringin' dat ras- 
cal's head off." 

It was nearer by way of the bars, and Mabel took 
the old familiar path through the field. How long ago 
it seemed since that day, when, her heart filled with 
the joy of having given happiness to a poor sufferer, 
and anticipation of the pleasure in store for her dear 
ones at the evening meal, and walking with the buoy- 
ancy of youth, she found Allan waiting impatiently for 
her. 

Then the sun shone with a lustre soft and the birds 
sang sweeter than e'er before. All Nature seemed to 
be rejoicing in vernal beauty, and she felt like saying, 
*'The world is very beautiful. Oh, my God, I thank 
thee that I live !" 

Now winter's chill had fallen over the earth; the 
trees tossed naked boughs in the wind; dead leaves 



43 MABEL GORDON 

rustled under foot ; from a distance came the sound of 
bleating sheep, and at any time the plaincive cry 
pierced her heart. Her summer sun had gone, "leav- 
ing behind a dreary waste, all dead, and cold, and 
gray." 

Could she ever take hold of life again? A numb- 
ness seemed to have settled over her ; even her prayers 
after that first wild cry for help seemed almost void of 
feeling. Heart and soul, as well as the frail body, 
were sick, and the Great Physician must touch with 
healing fingers to bring the "harp of a thousand 
strings" into perfect tune once more. Fortunately she 
had given herself into His care unreservedly. 

A while she stood with her arms on the fence till a 
step near by aroused her, and turning her head she met 
Allan's wistful gaze. The blood rushed to her face 
and she drew back as he advanced a step. 

"Forgive me, please," he said gently. "I couldn't 
resist the desire to revisit the place where we parted, 
trusting each other entirely. Will you speak to me, 
Mabel, and tell me you forgive me? You can't know 
what I've suffered since we last met, or you certainly 
would forgive me freely." 

He did look haggard, and she could not repress a 
feeling of pity. As he searched her face with his eyes 
he saw the change there. 

"You, too, have suffered," he said. "Your dear 
face shows it, and I, unhappy wretch, caused it!" 

"Yes," she replied, "I have felt such agony as you 
can know nothing of. To have one I honored and 
trusted fall so low was bitter sorrow to me." 

"I know it," said he, "and it hurts me as much as 
to give you up. I entreat your pardon. You are so 
good and pure you tio nothing wrong, and you can't 
understand my feelings ; but surely one so kind cannot 
withhold forgiveness to a penitent being. Besides, the 
Savior you worship enjoined a forgiving spirit." 



MABEL GORDON ^g 



<<i 



*I do no sin!" she cried. "Oh, if you only knew 
how I struggle against it ! If my Heavenly Father was 
not so kind what would become of me? Go to Him, 
Allan, and pray, pray for strength to overcome this 
terrible sin. and in time peace will come to you." 

"I am afraid my prayers will avail nothing," said 
he. "Will you pray for me?" 

"Yes," she replied; "but you must not come about 
me till you conquer yourself completely." 

He sighed heavily as he said : 

"It will be as you wish. I feel so unworthy of any 
kindness that I will not presume. I am deeply grate- 
ful for this opportunity of seeing and talking with you 
once more. Oh, Mabel, when I turn away from you 
all the light goes out of my life. The future is dark, 
dark to me." 

The sadness of his tone and face touched her, and 
her eyes were full of unshed tears. After a little 
silence she said : 

"You remember one of our favorite poets beauti- 
fully says : 

" 'Man cannot make, but may ennoble fate 
By nobly bearing it/ " 

She had not meant to call forth any of Meredith's 
exquisite "Farewell," but with deepening tones he re- 
peated : 

"And I shall feel, whatever we may be. 
E'en tho' in absence and an alien clime, 
The shadozv of the sunniness of thee, 
Hovering in patience, through a clouded time. 

"Farewell! The dawn is rising, and the light 
Is making in the east a faint endeavor 
To illuminate the mountain peaks. Good-night, 
Thine own, and only thine, my love, forever," 



44 MABEL GORDON 

Her heart was throbbing tumultuously, and despite 
her efforts at self-control the tears would come. 

"Don't," he begged. "I am unworthy of one tear 
from those beautiful eyes. Mabel, let me have your 
hand in mine and I'll say good-bye and go away, for 
I only grieve you." 

She put her hand in his outstretched one. "Good- 
bye," she said softly, "and may God bless and keep 
vou, and bring you into the marvelous light and peace 
of His love." 

He bowed his head upon her hand which he held as 
one clings at the last to a dear one drifting out into 
the world beyond. 

"Good-bye," he said huskily. "Oh, white-souled 
child, farewell !" 

She drew her hand away and turned to go, but 
paused to ask : 

"Would it not be well for you to leave here ?" 

"I am compelled to stay for Lucile's sake," he an- 
swered. 

"May strength be yours," she said. 

He bowed, and she went away, while he watched till 
the girlish figure passed from sight, then he went 
slowly in the direction of the Springs. His own sor- 
row made him very tender to the invalid. He felt that 
]\Iabel cared for him more than she admitted, and the 
thought lightened his burden, and, while he made no 
pretensions to Christianity, the knowledge that she 
prayed for him comforted him much. 

He did not tell Mabel that he had been to her home, 
but when she reached the house her mother said : 

"Mr. Harvey has been here, daughter, and seemed 
disappointed at not seeing you. He left a package for 
you. I put it in your room." 

She went to see what it could be and found several 
handsomely bound books by their favorite authors. On 
the flyleaf of one he had penciled lightly : 



MABEL GORDON 45 

"Long ago, when life was younger and life's burden 
cast no shadow, 
When the gladness of existence had a summer 
fountain's How; 
Side by side we trod dim woodland, river bank or 
haunted meadow — 
Long ago. 

'^Long ago faint odors held us in the purple fields of 
clover — 
Subtler in its sweet suggestions than all other 
blooms ablow; 
Hand in hand we sat together zvhere the clover heads 
hung over — 
Long ago. 

"Long ago the hand I clasped there had its loving 
hand-clasp broken; 
And the voices ceased from singing, and the cow- 
bells, faint and low, 
Died away, as died the echoes of the words that we 
had spoken — 
Long ago. 

"Long ago the ends divergent, our parted footsteps 
tended; 
No scented meadow mine, with its clover blooms 
aglow — 
Has youth's sunset come to you? My summer day 
was ended — 
Long ago." 

"Poor fellow!" she murmured, the tears starting 
again, "I am glad I met him and that he went away 
somewhat comforted, but these books must be put out 
of sight, even as all thought of him must be shut out of 
my heart. That dream is over, and yet it was so sweet ' 
Ah, my Lord, if I had not Thee to go to now, where 
would I find strength?" 



46 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER VI. 

Some time after Mabel determined to go away, Mrs. 
Rowland unexpectedly put in an appearance at Mr. 
Gordon's house, and pleaded eloquently with the 
mother for Mabel to be allowed to live with her. 

"Do you want to go, daughter?" asked Mrs. Gor- 
don. 

"I would like very much to go with Mrs. Row- 
land," said Mabel, "though I hate to leave you, and 
if Nellie wasn't coming so soon I would not. Can't 
you spare me a while, mother?" 

"We must talk it over with father before we de- 
cide," answered the mother. "Mrs. Rowland, take off 
your bonnet and spend the day with us." 

"I'll do so with pleasure," the lady said, "for I am 
not fond of hotels, and genuine hospitality delights 
me." 

"We are glad to have you with us," said Mrs. Gor- 
don, in her gentle, high-bred manner, "and Mr. Gor- 
don will be pleased to see you. Mabel, you stay and 
entertain your friend. I am obliged to be out for a 
while." 

"Indeed, lady-mother, you'll stay here yourself," re- 
sponded the girl brightly. "I'll attend to dinner, and 
show Mrs. Rowland what an excellent cook you've 
made of me." 

Mrs. Rowland smiled, and Mrs, Gordon said : 

"Necessity made one of you, my child." 

"Well, it's all right, anyway," replied Mabel, "and, 
ladies, prepare yourselves to enjoy my dinner." 



MABEL GORDON ATI 

As she went out Mrs. Gordon said : 

"If Mabel leaves us it will make a dreadful void in 
this home." 

"I know it, dear madam, and that I am asking a 
great favor, but if I could not be a help to her, much 
as I want her, I would not try to get her. She is too 
pretty and sweet to bury herself here all her life. Let 
her see something of the world," urged the guest. 

"Knowledge of the world does not always improve 
one," replied Mrs. Gordon. 

"Believe me," said Mrs. Rowland earnestly, "that T 
will guard her as my own had I been so blest as to 
have a daughter. Had such children as yours been 
given me I would proudly say, 'These are my jewels !' 
You are a fortunate woman." 

"Thank you," said the mother, well pleased. "I 
realize that we are blest," and she looked at the woman 
before her, arrayed in her elegant apparel, having all 
that wealth could give, and she pitied her. 

When Mr. Gordon came he greeted their visitor with 
old time courtesy and elegance of manner. 

"Verily," said Mrs. Rowland to herself, "these peo- 
ple are born to the purple, and yet they are living 
here cheerfully in this humble home, and that lovely 
girl is working as if it were a pleasure!" 

She enjoyed the dinner heartily, while her delicate 
compliments to Mabel quite won the father, and after 
their repast was over further pleased him by begging 
him not to forego his pipe on her account. Then when 
he had settled himself in his armchair, she introduced 
the subject near her heart. 

Mr. Gordon listened respectfully while she talked, 
and when she asked him for an answer he said : 

"I appreciate your offer, and have no doubt in some 
respects it will be a nice thing for Mabel, but how can 
we give her up? She a.Qd Willie are all we have left. 
Two noble boys fill soldiers' graves, and we cling to 



48 MABEL GORDON 

these children. You are lonely, you say, while your 
home is filled with all that wealth can buy. This hum- 
ble home depends entirely upon its human ornaments 
for beauty and comfort, and I think Mabel is best off 
here. She is young, many call her pretty, and she 
might attract someone in New York and thus be taken 
entirely away from us. If she ever marries I want 
her to choose among her own people. If you lived 
near us she might spend much of her time with you; 
as it is, I don't see how I can let her go." 

'T understand your feelings," said the lady, "and 
don't blame you. Still I earnestly wish you would let 
me have her. If you knew how I long for a daughter 
surely you would let her go with me." 

"Think what a comfort she is to us and how we will 
miss her ! However, she shall decide, and if she wants 
to go with you her mother and I will try to give her 
up for a while ; but surely a child so loved and needed 
as she is here would not leave." 

"Believe me, sir, that I have no thought of want of 
dutiful affection on Mabel's part. It is natural for the 
young to want to fly off a while, even if they have to 
return to the home nest to rest their tired wings. 
Mabel will never forget her dear ones, no matter how 
far she goes, and would come back to the honored 
parents, to whom she owes so much for their noble ex- 
amples and high precepts." 

The nice compliment had the desired effect, and when 
Mabel joined them Mr. Gordon said : 

"Well, daughter, your friend here has been pleading 
her cause with ability, and now what do you say? Are 
you willing to leave us ?" 

The girl took his hand in her clasp caressingly as 
she said : 

"I never want to leave my home, father, but it would 
give me great pleasure to go with Mrs. Rowland. I 
will come back to you the same little girl you have 



MABEL GORDON 49 

taught so faithfully, and mother shall see that I have 
lost none of her dear lessons." 

The mother smiled tenderly at the eager face as she 
said : 

"Then I suppose we will have to let you go for a 
short time anyhow. You will not want to leave before 
Willie's marriage? If you wait till then, when Nellie 
comes we can spare you better." 

"I can wait some time, dear friend," rejoined Mrs. 
Rowland, "when I know you are going to let this 
child go home with me. I am exceedingly grateful to 
you for giving her to me, even for a short while, and 
rest assured, as far as in my power lies, she shall not 
feel the need of her parents, though I know it would 
be impossible to take their place in her heart. Give 
yourself no thought, Mrs. Gordon, as to her outfit. 
It will employ the waiting time, and I enjoy fixing 
pretty things for young girls." Then turning to 
Mabel she smiled and said, "So preen your wings, my 
birdling, and be ready for our flight when the day 
comes." 

Then she leave of her new friends, and as she 
rode away, Mr. Gordon said : 

"Well, my daughter, I like your Mrs. Rowland 
right well, but," and there was a pause, "I can't forget 
where she comes from." 



60 MABEL GORDON. 



CHAPTER VII. 

There were times when Mabel almost gave up the 
idea of going with her friend, when she saw how her 
parents clung to her and heard Willie's arguments 
against her plan. But she needed the change so much, 
her reason told her it was best to go, for the struggle 
through which she had passed told on her strength. 
Allan had kept well away from her, but there were 
daily reminders of him, for if she took up her books 
she was made to think of how he roused her ambition 
and stimulated her to greater effort. To please him 
she endured fatigue and trials in her determination to 
excel others, though after all he had to go out of her 
life forever, and when he went the joy of success died 
away. 

Oh, it was hard to feel that one whom she loved 
and trusted, and to whom she owed much, because of 
the timely help he gave, should prove other than the 
noble, high-toned man she believed him to be. And to 
suggest to her to give up her purity of life ! She shud- 
dered at the thought. Yes, she would go away where 
pothing could recall the dream of her girlhood, and 
he would hold onto her truth and never forget the 
holy teachings and example of her mother. Never 
would she turn from the way so plainly shown her, 
and in which she would find perfect peace. 

Allan's love had been very sweet, but there was a 
love far more precious, and to keep that she could give 
up a passion tainted with sin. 

It might be that no other would ever come into her 
life, and before her might stretch a long, loveless life. 



MABEL GORDON 51 

So be it, she could bear all sustained by a Power so 
tender, so comforting to all troubled hearts, and it was 
that faith which gave to her face its look of quiet hap- 
piness, and enabled her to take the part she did in wel- 
coming Willie's bride. 

"You are to take my place, Nellie," she said. "Be 
to mother a daughter indeed, and you will find the kind- 
est mother a girl ever had. I am sorry to leave you, 
dear, for a sister is a sweet possession to me." 

"Tell us, sis," said her brother, "when I am to have 
the pleasure of welcoming a brother. It does seem 
hard for you to find one suited to your fastidious taste, 
though lots of beaux are sighing for a kind word from 
you." 

"Did I ever treat anyone unkindly?" she asked. 

"No, but you stop at kindness, and they want more. 
Are you waiting till you go with your friend, thinking 
to find a nabob ? Can't you find a Southern boy capable 
of coming up to your ideal ?" 

Mr. Gordon heard the question, and he turned to 
Mabel, saying: 

"My child, let it not be that you turn from your own 
people, and choose among men whom you can owe 
nothing of love." 

"Dear father," she said, "give yourself no trouble 
on my account. I am content to love my dear ones 
here, and have no thought of lovers. I am not like 
other girls, you know." 

And she was unlike them, for not many had suffered 
as she had done, or put out of sight a sweeter love than 
she had buried. She was safe in going with Mrs. 
Rowland, for it w^ould be long before she recovered 
from the blow Allan had dealt, and to trust again 
seemed impossible. 

So she made ready to go, for Mrs. Rowland had 
come, bringing with her the numerous pretty dresses 
and articles dear to all feminine hearts. 



53 MABEL GORDON 

The evening loefore leaving she went to tell Mammy 
good-bye, and to take a last walk. The same peaceful 
air rested over all; the mocking birds poured forth 
their sweetest songs, and everything reminded her of 
the day Allan held her hands in his and kissed her 
farewell. He was true and pure then, she thought, 
and a deep sigh stirred her as she leaned for a moment 
on the fence, near where she had seen him last. 

Mammy's lament over her broke down her calmness 
and the tears came freely. Laying her tremulous, 
black hands on the bright, young head of the girl, the 
old nurse prayed that her "chile" might be kept from 
all harm. 

"Be wid her, Lawd, an' mek her lak one er de 
blesed sarafims whut shined in Mary Magdelany, 
an' keep her soul in peace an' mek her cum up wid re- 
joicin' eberlastin', whar I'se gwine be truwout etar- 
nity." 

Viney held her hands close, too full to say much, for 
little missy was very dear to her, and Mabel felt the 
parting from these faithful friends and sympathizers. 
Since her earliest recollections they were really a part 
of the family as they claimed to be. 

The parting at home was full of grief for all. and 
Mrs. Rowland's tears mingled with theirs, though slie 
assured them the dear one should return at her pleas- 
ure. 

"Come back, my own pure child," said the m.other, 
and the father's parting advice was not to forget she 
was a Southern girl and to bear herself accordingly. 

Mrs. Rowland was very proud of Mabel's attractive 
appearance. Clad in her neat traveling suit, the stylish 
hat surmounting her gold-brown curls, the fair face, 
with its earnest, soft eyes and rose-hued mouth, she 
made a charming young lady. 

Noticing the admiring looks of their fellow travel- 
ers, the lady said to herself: 



MABEL GORDON 53 



<o 



*I am afraid I'll not keep her long, and the thought 
pains me. I wonder how Rudolf will like her? But, 
dear me, I need not give him a thought, for he will 
hardly know she is in the house. I don't believe Mabel 
will throw herself in his way, as some do, so she won't 
disgust him. And she is lovely enough to charm any 
man less given over to hatred. Poor Louis! you in 
your prison home are hardly to be pitied more than 
Rudolf in his bitterness of feeling. My poor boys! 
my heart mourns over both." 



54 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Mabel had been in her new home several days be- 
fore Colonel Chester returned from a trip, and the first 
she knew of his presence in the house was during her 
stay in a small room adjoining Mrs. Rowland's own 
sitting room, whither she had gone for a few moments 
to discharge a light duty she had assumed, and while 
there the brother and sister entered the sitting room. 
Not wishing to meet him Mabel remained quiet, hop- 
ing he would soon go. After a few remarks about his 
journey, she heard Colonel Chester say : 

"I hear from John that you brought a young girl 
home with you. Where did you find her, and how 
came you to bring her at all ?" 

"I met her while in the South, during my stay at the 
Springs, to which I carried my husband in his vain 
search for health," replied Mrs. Rowland. "I was out 
riding one day and came upon a girl walking and 
talking with a nice looking negress. I was very 
much taken with the girl's bright face and general ap- 
pearance, and learned she was of gentle birth, that her 
people were reduced by the war, and the girl was 
making a brave effort to finish her education. Her 
companion she introduced as Malviney, her old nurse's 
daughter, and her escort to the village, whither the 
girl went to take music lessons. Naturally I became 
interested, and frequently met them. The more I saw 
of Mabel the fonder I grew of her, and offered to give 
her good advantages if she would come to me, but she 
could not leave home so young, so I waited till she was 
grown, then tried again to get her and succeeded. I 



MABEL GORDON 55 

need her very much, for you have no idea how lonely 
I am, and, Rudolf, I don't want you to hurt her feel- 
ings because you hate all womankind." 

"Yourself always excepted," returned her brother. 
"I am a gentleman, if I do distrust women, and so 
shall not wound your young protegee; besides, I'll 
liardly see her, for I am busy all the time. You say she 
lived near those Springs. I passed through ^here during 
the late unplesasantness, and 'twas theii I did some- 
thing I shall always regret." 

"You, Rudolf!" exclaimed his sister. "Why, I 
never heard you speak of it." 

"No, for it is not a pleasant memory. My men had 
been terribly tried and insulted, and they were ready 
for any act. I was much younger then than now, and 
but recently promoted. The men did something which 
enraged the owner of the place we were trespassing 
upon, and he said he didn't suppose we would even 
leave a shelter over his head; that he looked for any 
act of violence from such vandals. And I said, 'Well, 
men, don't disappoint him ; stick the torch to his house,' 
and it was done. Afterwards I regretted it much, 
but it was too late, and I will never forget the look on 
the wife's face as I passed her, sitting on the ground 
holding her two children to her breast to hide the sight 
of their burning home. I would do much to undo it 
if possible, for the utter despair on that mother's face 
haunts me even now. Bah ! I don't like to think of it. 
War is a cruel thing, and when I laid by my sword it 
ended with me." 

A few more remarks followed, and then he went out, 
and Mabel sat like one stunned. She was in the house 
with the man by whose order her home was destroyed 
— the pretty home her parents loved so dearly, and the 
grandeur of which her Mammy dv»^elt upon in talk- 
ing to the "chillun." Could she stay there? Mammy 
feared Allan might be kin to the one that ordered the 



56 MABEL GORDON 

torch applied, and what would she say if she knew her 
"chile" was living in the same house with the man 
himself? She sat perfectly still till Mrs. Rowland 
left the room, then she escaped, and she determined to 
tell her friend that it would be impossible for her to 
stay there, though she could not give her reason, for 
she disliked to say she had overheard their conversa- 
tion, although 'twas accidental. 

She would try to keep aloof from him, for he hated 
all women, and then he had given her a powerful rea- 
son to dislike him. In fancy she could look across the 
fields and see those lonely chimneys, always like sen- 
tinels guarding a sacred spot. Oh! those horrible 
memories ! When would the healer, Time, remove the 
wounds — festering heart-wounds — caused by men who 
should have been brothers? She tried to drive the 
thoughts away, and to appear as usual to her friend, 
to whom she said, some days after overhearing Colonel 
Chester's remarks : 

"Mrs. Rowland, do you live with your brother, or 
he with you?" 

"I live with him," the lady replied. "I have a home 
of my own, but it is not in a part of the city he likes, 
and as I have no family, and he is attached to this 
house, I rented mine and came to him. But it need 
make no difference to you, child, for he is willing for 
me to have anyone here I want. He is at home so 
little he doesn't know much of its workings, and you 
need not see him often, if you prefer not doing so." 

"Which I do." said the girl, "for you say he dislikes 
all women, and I much prefer avoiding him all the 
time." 

Mrs. Rowland smiled. 

"The same outspoken little girl I first met. Well, 
dear, you shall do as you please." 

So the days passed on, and Colonel Chester almost 
forgot the girl's existence, but one morning Mrs. Row- 



MABEL GORDON 57 

land was too feeble to attend the breakfast table, and 
she said to Mabel : 

"You will have to preside for me this morning at 
breakfast. Rudolf doesn't enjoy his meals if a servant 
is all he sees at table. Woman hater that he is, he 
thinks them very necessary at meal time. You will 
find him very polite, and you may even enjoy his so- 
ciety, for he can be charming. Go, dear, and fill my 
place." 

Mabel bowed, and went quietly down to the hand- 
some breakfast room, and when Colonel Chester en- 
tered, instead of seeing his sister's matronly form in 
its accustomed place, a slender, girlish creature awaited 
him. He glanced in surprise, then bowed with ex- 
quisite grace. 

"Miss Gordon, I presume. I am Rudolf Chester. 
Is my sister sick that she is not present this morn- 
ing?" 

"Yes, sir, and she sent me to wait on you in her 
stead," replied Mabel, very calmly, though her pulses 
bounded and she felt almost suffocated by her emo- 
tions. 

"You are very kind," he said. "I trust Augusta is 
not seriously ill." 

Mabel assured him that she was not, then proceeded 
to pour his coffee, and to act as if it were perfectly 
natural for her to occupy the place she then filled. 

He noticed her quiet grace of manner, and mentally 
concluded that his sister was not too loud in praise of 
her young friend. As Mabel said nothing, and he was 
host, he felt that he must make it pleasant for her, 
much as he disliked her kind. 

"How do you like our city?" he asked. 

"I have not been here long enough to be able to say," 
she answered. 

"You must go out more," he said, "for it is dull 
here to a young lady, but if you like to read there is 



58 MABEL GORDON 

a fine library In the house, to which you can have access 
at any time, and if you belong to the army of piano 
players there is a grand one you can use, but please 
spare me all you can in practicing." 

"Thank you," she said, "I am very fond of reading, 
and also of music, but you need give yourself no un- 
easiness about my practicing. I shall not annoy you in 
the least." 

He bowed, and ate on in silence. As he rose to leave 
the table he said: 

"Please tell Augusta I am very sorry she is ill; 
if I had time would go to see her. Will she be down 
at dinner?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"And you?" he asked. 

"I will be at home," she said simply. 

"Can't you be with us?" again he asked. 

"If Mrs. Rowland wishes me," she replied. 

Again he bowed, and feeling he had wasted too 
much time upon a girl, left for his office, and gave no 
further thought to her till upon his return he saw only 
his sister. 

"Where is Miss Gordon?" he asked. 

"She preferred not coming down, and of course I 
excused her," replied the lady. 

"Does she think me an ogre ?" 

"No, but she knows you dislike all women, and it 
is pleasanter to keep away from you," Mrs. Rowland 
replied. 

"I have small cause to like them," he said, "but she 
need not fear me, I shall not be rude to her." 

"She said you were quite kind. I must take her 
about more, for I am afraid she will grow homesick, 
and if the child were to leave it would cause me much 
sorrow. I am very fond of her, Rudolf." 

"So I perceive," he said. 



MABEL GORDON 59 

"And so would you if you would see more of her," 
retorted his sister. 

He smiled at her feeling of warmth. 

"My dear Augusta, how am I to see anything of her 
when she avoids me, and I care so little that I do not 
know she is here, unless by accident I see her? She 
is very pretty, and I doubt not that fair face would 
lure a man to madness if he should be so foolish as to 
allow himself to care for her, and she would care no 
more for the sorrow she might cause than Eleanor 
cares for the woe she wrought poor Louis. Your 
pretty protegee is all you want, and I am glad for your 
sake. She is nothing to me." 

Mrs. Rowland made no reply and the conversation 
drifted to other topics. 

Of course Mrs. Rowland said nothing to Mabel of 
Colonel Chester's feelings, but the girl steadily avoided 
him, and he took so little notice of it that he never 
mentioned her name. 

One day, having occasion to go to the kitchen, she 
found Sarah, the faithful cook, groaning with pain. 

"Why, Sarah, are you ill?" she asked. 

"Indeed, miss, I'm near dead with me head, and the 
masther left worrud to have a foine dinner, for he was 
to bring frinds home with him, an' me that sick I could 
die." 

"Never mind," comforted Mabel. "Let Katie pre- 
pare dinner." 

Sarah's face did not brighten. 

"Oh, miss, she knows no more of cooking than :; 
baby." 

"Let me do it, then," suggested the girl. 

"You, Miss Gordon," exclaimed Sarah. 

"Yes, I," smiled Mabel. "I was a famous cook at 
home, and it would really give me pleasure to do this. 
You can sit in here and direct me if I go wrong." 



60 MABEL GORDON 

"But Mrs. Rowland will not like for you to do this," 
objected Sarah. 

"She will not know it. She isn't able to come down 
now, and Katie can wait on her. I'll run and tell her 
j»ot to expect me in several hours, and get a long apron 
to protect my dress, then we will soon get this bugbear 
out of the way. I'll give the master a taste of South- 
ern cookery, and if it is not as good as yours he can 
put up with it once." 

Away she flitted, and was soon back again, with cuffs 
laid aside, and white wrists bared for work. 

"Now I am ready, and I shall enjoy this," she 
said. 

"I'll bless you till me dyin' day," said Sarah, "fur 
ef ye hadn't helped, the saints only know what I should 
'a done." 

"And I am very glad to be able to help you," said 
Mabel. "I know who humors my taste, and now this 
is my opportunity for showing gratitude." 

She moved about the kitchen as gracefully as she 
did in the parlor — always the lady. Sarah watched 
her admiringly, and when the dinner was all done 
became loud in praise of her skill. 

"Now, Sarah," she said, "I shall leave everything 
in your care while I run and see Mrs. Rowland, and 
help her to be ready when Colonel Chester comes with 
his friends." 

As she entered that lady's room Mrs. Rowland ex- 
claimed : 

"Mabel, what have you been doing! Your cheeks 
are flaming, and you are tired." 

"I ran upstairs, dear lady, and am slightly tired. 
Are you ready to come down to preside for Colonel 
Chester? Dinner will soon be served." 

"Yes, I will go, and you must accompany me. I 
shall not let you hide yourself always. You 
are my daughter for the time being and one of whom 



MABEL GORDON 61 

I am justly proud. So dress yourself carefully and be 
very sweet." 

"I always want to please you," said Mabel, "but I 
really would be glad to be excused to-day." 

"Impossible, dear," replied her friend, smiling. "I 
want you to come, and your good parents trained you 
to habits of obedience, you know. So you will do as 
I say. You were accustomed to company at home, so 
you need not care now." 

"Oh, it is not that. Company makes no difference 
to me, for if our home was humble guests were fre- 
quently entertained there." 

"It is Rudolf, then! Well, you need not care for 
him. I need you, and you will come. I am going 
down now to meet them." 

So Mabel donned a pretty dress, and her heightened 
color added to her beauty. She slipped back to the din- 
ing room to see that everything was in perfect order, 
John was at his post, delighted with the appearance 
of dinner. 

"John," she said, a little anxiously, "do you think he 
will be pleased to-day? I tried so hard to have every- 
thing nice." 

"Indeed, Miss Gordon, I know he is bound to like 
everything, and I'll do all I can to suit him," an- 
swered John, glad to comfort her. 

Nevertheless, Mabel was somewhat nervous when 
the meal began. Colonel Chester introduced his friends 
to her when they entered the elegant dining room, 
and he saw the same girlish figure there he had met 
once before. If he was at all gratified in seeing her 
again, his face showed none of it, but his friends looked 
the admiration they felt. 

Once during the course of the meal he asked Mrs. 
Rowland : 

"Have you a new cook?" 

"No," returned his sister, "but there is a difference 



62 MABEL GORDON 

in the viands to-day. I suppose Sarah has tried a 
new way." 

"Tell her to keep on, please," he said. "I am either 
very hungry, or the victuals exceedingly nice. Miss 
Gordon, your appetite is not so good. Can't I help you 
to some of this fowl?" 

Mabel stole a look at John. That functionary was 
standing, tray in hand, and with a face as inscrutable 
as his master's. 

The conversation turned on other subjects, and 
Mabel could listen and watch the faces of all. Colonel 
Chester was by far the most distinguished looking 
of the gentlemen present, and she noticed the deference 
with which his opinions were received. His face de- 
noted a fine character, the expression of his eyes was 
kind, and his smile perfect; a man a child would 
trust and women rely upon. 

Looking at him and listening to his pleasant tones 
Mabel found it hard to believe him capable of cruel 
conduct toward a defenceless old man and helpless 
children. He raised his eyes and caught her look, and 
his smile deepened her color. 

As Mrs. Rowland and she left the table she said : 

"H you do not need me I would like to write some 
letters this evening. Mother will be disappointed un- 
less her regular one goes." 

"By all means write. I will excuse you," Mrs. 
Rowland replied, and the guests looked disappointed 
when they failed to find the girl in the drawinig 
room. 

"Where is Miss Gordon?" asked Colonel Chester. 

"She had letters to write and begged me to excuse 
her," answered his sister. 

"I tell Colonel Chester," said one of his friends, 
"that it will be strange if he continues to hate the fair 
sex, with such a piece of feminine loveliness so near. 
How can you resist such charms?" 



MABEL GORDON 63 

Colonel Chester smiled slightly as he replied : 
"Feminine beauty has no charms for me. I am thor- 
oughly in love with my profession, to the exclusion of 
all other loves." 

"And so you do not admire this dainty Southerner?'* 
"Well, really, I know so little of her I can't say 
I do," gravely returned the host. 

"Ah, Chester, if you ever should be struck by the 
blind god it will be a terrible case," his friend re- 
torted. 

"I do not apprehend anything of the kind. I am 
thirty- four and never yet have been attacked." 

"You are not safe yet. Your fate may be at hand." 
"Then 'tis to be hoped I will be kindly treated," 
Colonel Chester said lightly, and ended the talk. 



G4 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER IX. 

One day, some time after his friends' visit, as Colo- 
nel Chester was making ready to go to his office his 
sister said : 

"Can't you stay with me? I see so little of you 
these days." 

"I am very busy." he replied. "Our clerk has more 
than he can do and I have to copy several papers." 

"Mabel writes well, and if you have any work with 
you will help you. I'll send for her," said Mrs. Row- 
land. 

"I dislike to trouble her," he said, "but you can 
see." 

In answer to the summons Mabel came quietly into 
the library. 

"You sent for me?" she asked her friend, who an- 
swered : 

"Yes, dear. Will you help Rudolf with some wTit- 
ing?" 

"Certainly," she said, "where is the work?" 

"I dislike to bother you," said Colonel Chester, "but 
will be glad of assistance. I'll have the papers arranged 
in a few moments." 

"Writing never worries me," she said, "and if by 
helping you I can gain some of your society for Mrs. 
Rowland I shall be glad." 

"You do not care for it yourself, I presume?" he 
said, his eyes twinkling merrily. 

She looked up quickly. 

"I do not, sir," she replied coldly. 

The amused look deepened on his face. 



I 



MABEL GORDON 65 

"Little rebel," he said to himself: "she certainly 
has no more liking for me than I have for her." 

He gravely arranged the work for her, and taking 
'ip a paper settled himself near the light. As Mrs. 
:\.owland was reading, there was silence for quite a 
time, then he arose and going to the faithful copyist 
said : 

"I don't want to tire you to-night. Rest now while 
I look over this paper." 

Mabel bowed, and rising, drew a chair near to Mrs. 
Rowland, who laid down her book to talk with her. 
Chatting on quietly together they took no notice of 
the gentleman, till a contemptuous expression from 
him caused his sister to look at him in surprise. He 
laid down his paper, his face full of scorn. 

"What ails you, Rudolf?" asked Mrs. Rowland. 

"I see in this paper that Eleanor Heath is to be man- 
ager of the new charitable guild just started, and it 
disgusted me. She coaxed a round sum from my 
partner for it, but she didn't come to me, and it is 
well she did not. I cannot endure that woman." 

"Oh, brother, you are too hard on her," said his 
sister. 

"Too hard ! When she ruined Louis by her per- 
fidy? That woman caused me to lose faith in all 
womankind, and had she come to me with her sweet 
ways I should have told her of her hypocrisy. A 
Christian indeed ! If there was such a thing as re- 
ligion she would make me hate it." 

Mabel listened quietly till he finished, then she 
said: 

"Do you doubt there being such a thing as Chris- 
tianity?" 

"Yes," he said, "and so would you if you knew 
the sorrow that woman has caused and could see 
others as I do. I know men who make long prayers. 
and almost seem sanctified, yet they oppress widows 



6G MABEL GORDON 

and orphans, steal and falsify, though they claim to 
be Christians. And there are women, looking like 
saints, who can coolly crush men's hearts; can turn 
from the truest love and sell themselves to richer 
suitors. If they were Christians could they do so?" 

"Hush, Rudolf," said his sister. "You shall not 
try to shake Mabel's faith." 

"He cannot," said the girl quietly; "I know re- 
ligion is real. I have seen the faith he despises sup- 
port my parents in bitter trials, and it has been my 
only comfort in severe trouble. It is out of his power 
to shake my faith, for it is a part of my being, and life 
without the belief my parents have taught me from my 
earliest recollections would be dark indeed." 

"And do you accept those teachings blindly?" 

"Not blindly, for I have the witness within my soul 
that all I believe is true, and. Colonel Chester, were 
it in your power to take from me youth, health and 
friends, or my faith, I would rather you would take 
all else and leave to me my belief." 

"Now, Rudolf, you must let her alone," interposed 
Mrs. Rowland. 

"I wall," he said, "for if she wants to believe as 
she does all logic will be in vain. I never try to con- 
vince a woman against her will." 

"Are we so unreasonable as that?" asked Mabel. 

"Yes; I never look for reason in your sex." 

"You are complimentary," she said. 

"I am truthful, he returned. 

"That is always best," she replied gravely. 

"Are you the same?" he asked. 

She drew herself up as she said : 

"I have never known anything else but the truth." 

"Then if some honest man some day offers you his 
love, and wins from you a promise to be his wife, you 
would not throw him away for a wealthier lover? 
Could he depend on you ?" he asked. 



MABEL GORDON 67 

"He could," she said; "but I hardly think that will 
take place." 

"Young as you are do you really belive that? I 
thought all girls looked forward to matrimony." 

"I am not like them in that," she said. 

"And there is no laddie at the South waiting for his 
lassie?" 

"None there," she answered. 

"You have had her on the witness stand long 
enough," said Mrs. Rowland. "You must quit bring- 
ing your lawyer-like ways into our home circle, Ru- 
dolf." 

"I will hush," he said, and looking at his watch, "I 
must leave you now. I have an engagement to meet. 
I am under obligations to you, Miss Gordon, for the 
assistance you have rendered me." 

Mabel bowed, and Mrs. Rowland said : 

"You are under more to her for cooking that nice 
dinner for your friends and yourself." 

"Mrs. Rowland, pray hush!" exclaimed Mabel. 

"Ah!" he said, turning quickly; "I congratulate 
you, Miss Gordon, upon your skill, and thank you for 
the treat you gave us; but how came you to do it?" 

"Sarah was quite sick and I merely took her place," 
explained Mabel. 

"A regular good Samaritan," put in Mrs. Rowland. 

"'Twas very kind," he said. "I did not think you 
could succeed in that line." 

"I was trained at home," she said simply, "and there 
was need for me to learn housework." 

"And every girl should be so trained," he said, as 
he turned to go. 

Mrs. Rowland laughed as she said : 

"Rudolf, with all his brilliancy and learning is like 
other men, and the way to his heart is via his stomach." 

"I don't believe there is a way to his heart," said 



68 MABEL GORDON 

Mabel, "and it would be a brave woman who would at- 
tempt it." 

Colonel Chester heard the remark, as he paused at 
the door, and looking back he said : 

"I shouldn't think the reward sufficient for the 
task." 

Mrs. Rowland replied : 

"Brother, you do yourself injustice. I could wish 
no woman a greater blessing than your love. Your 
heart is a noble one if you do persist in closing it 
against the ladies." 

"Whenever I find one so pure and true that she 
can restore my faith in womankind, then I'll lay my 
all at her feet, and. till then, sister mine, this 'noble 
heart,' as you are pleased to term it, will stay in my 
keeping," said he. 

He left them and the ladies after a little more 
talk prepared to retire. 

Colonel Chester's questions called up thoughts of 
the laddie Mabel knew long ago, and the dull pain 
that settled about her heart revealed that the struggle 
through which she had passed was not all the battle 
to be fought ere she could declare herself entirely 
free from the love Allan had inspired. She won- 
dered where he was then, and if he were happy. No 
tidings of him had ever reached her, and though he 
had shocked and wounded her so terribly, it was hard 
to forget a friend so endeared by many kindnesses, 
and it was to him she owed the awakening of her 
ambition to fit herself for any position. She won- 
dered, too, if Colonel Chester would ask a woman 
he professed to love to be false to every principle of 
honor. Yes, she believed if he could love as Allan 
said he did, he would- act so, too, for he was a man 
of the world and familiar with life in all its phases. 
He was worse than her old friend, for he scoffed at 
religion, and Allan never did that. Colonel Chester 



MABEL GORDON '69 

reqtiirec! purity and sincerity in woman, and he might 
not know anything of either. So with her mind full 
of both men she fell asleep, to dream of her girlhood, 
of her quiet childhood, when she walked with Allan 
through the shady lanes and fragrant woods, when 
he unwittingly stole her heart away and lost his own. 



70 MABEL GORDON. 



CHAPTER X. 

Time passed uneventfully on to them all, and Colo- 
nel Chester saw little of Mabel. She had another 
cause to dislike him, for he was an avowed infidel, 
and it filled her with horror to hear anyone deny the 
existence of the Being she worshiped. It was worse 
than turning them out homeless to try to shake her 
faith in her parents' God. Her evident avoidance of 
him amused him very much, and he began to seek op- 
portunities of talking to her. 

One bright Sabbath morning he met her in the hall, 
dressed in outdoor costume. 

"Ah! Miss Gordon," he said, "may I ask where you 
have been?" 

"To church, sir," she replied. 

"To church? How good you are to give up a de- 
lightful nap just to listen to a drowsy sermon, preached 
upon speculations some superstitious creature has got- 
ten up. Now I spent the morning indulging in a re- 
freshing sleep, which I needed, having come in late 
last night, and this morning no place suited me so well 
as the arms of Morpheus, so I went breakfastless and 
am now hungry. Augusta said you would give me 
my luncheon, as all the servants are so pious they must 
needs go to church, too, and have not returned. Will 
you see to my wants?" 

"Certainly," she said, and turned toward the din- 
ing room, he following closely. "The table is all ar- 
ranged, and I will take Mrs. Rowland's lunch to her." 

"Augusta ate late and is in no need of food now," 
he said. "I want you here, so take off your hat and 



MABEL GORDON *[\. 

eat with me. You know, of course, I don't like ladies, 
but they add a great deal to a table." 

She hesitated, and he continued: 

"I insist upon your joining me in this. Do you 
really hate to eat with me?" 

"Yes, sir," she said, "since you force me to tell the 
truth." 

"Ah !" he said coolly, "and what is your reason, or 
have you any?" 

With a flushing face she yet raised her eyes bravely 
to his as she replied : 

"It is, sir, because you can partake willingly of all 
the good things a generous God bestows on you and 
never give Him thanks — indeed even go as far as to 
deny His existence." 

He saw she felt all she said, so he answered quietly. 

"Well, we won't quarrel to-day over our beliefs. 
Let us enjoy the good things before us and be friendly. 
Sit down and let me help you to this roast. It is very 
nicely prepared; almost equals that you gave us once." 

With exquisite courtesy he did the honors of the 
table, eating slowly, and talking as he ate. 

"The day is very pretty, Miss Gordon," he said, 
"and a drive this afternoon would be pleasant. Will 
you go with me driving?" 

"No, sir," she said calmly. 

"You won't! Why not?" 

"I do not approve of it," she said. 

"You don't?" 

"No, sir." 

"And you won't go with me?" 

"No, sir." 

"Well, upon my word," said he, "you are polite." 

"What else can I say?" she asked. "You had to 
be answered." 

"And you run the risk of never being asked again 
by refusing now," said he. 



72 MABEL GORDON 

She smiled as she repHed : 

"I hope you are not of the opinion my happiness 
can be affected thereby." 

''I beheve it is not merely because you disapprove 
Sunday rides," he said. "You don't want to go with 
me. Am I not right?" 

She looked worried, and her face colored. 

"The truth," said he; "you profess to know noth- 
ing else." 

Then she looked him fearlessly in the face as she 
said : 

"You are right, but I dislike to be rude to you." 

"And will you carry out your candid role and give 
your reasons? That is, if you have any? This may 
be a Doctor Fell case with you, and I doubt your 
having any. Women seldom do." 

"And as I shall not give mine, it is useless to dis- 
cuss this longer," she retorted. "I shall take Mrs. 
Rowland's lunch to her and you can prepare for your 
drive." 

He arose, opened the door for her, and bowed low 
as she acknowledged his courtesy, his wine-brown 
eyes gleaming with humor. 

"Little saint!" he said. "I believe she has lots of 
spirit, for all she seems so good. I'll go up and 
see Augusta a while;" so, as Mabel was attending 
upon that lady's wants, he made his appearance at the 
door, cigar in hand. 

"May I come in and take my smoke here?" he 
asked. "Sister, I know a cigar is never offensive to 
you, but Miss Gordon may not like it. Is it too great 
an act of desecration for me to smoke at all to-day?" 

"You are a law unto yourself, sir," replied the girl, 
"and certainly are not amenable to me for anything 
you do, but / am responsible for tny conduct, and shall 
govern myself accordingly." 

He bowed gravely, and Mrs. Rowland asked : 



MABEL GORDON 73 

"What is wrong with you two now?" 

"What do you suppose your paragon did just now ?" 
he asked. "She actually refused to take a drive with 
me. What do you think of such conduct?" 

"I think," said his sister, "that no other lady of 
your acquaintance would have done so. Why did 
you, Mabel?" 

"It is against my principles, madam, and he knew 
it," she answered quietly. 

"You had been to church and that was enough," 
he said. "You had given the morning to worship- 
ing your God and you might take a little recreation 
this afternoon. Your religion is too straightlaced. Miss 
Gordon. Your ways will drive sinners from you. My 
faith is much more pleasant." 

"I make no war upon you," she said, "and must 
insist that you let me alone." 

"And if I do not heed you, what then?" 

"'Twill be as though you said nothing, for it is not 
in your power, sir, to change my belief," she said very 
quietly. 

"And so I am to go alone? The drive would be 
pleasanter shared with someone." 

"Haven't you friends of your kind, and couldn't 
you get one to ride with you?" she asked. 

"Oh, yes," he said; "I will give you a glowing ac- 
count of my ride. There is a book of sermons in the 
library you can read if you w^.nt some amusement." 

"Rudolf, you are simply abominable," said his sis- 
ter. 

He bowed low to her, mockingly to Mabel, and 
quitted the room. 

"Don't mind him, dear," said Mrs. Rowland. "I 
never saw him act so before, and if you can influence 
him for good, pray do so." 

"I shall not try to influence him at all, dear lady, 
but when he attacks me I will defend myself," an- 
swered Mabel. 



74 MABEL GORDO}/ 

"He was a different man before poor Louis lost 
his reason. They were noble boys, and loved each 
other so tenderly. Ah! what have I not suffered on 
their account. Louis was not quite as handsome as 
Rudolf, but he attracted people powerfully. Some 
day I'll take you to see him, and you will wonder how 
a girl could turn from him to a man every way his 
inferior. But I do not blame Eleanor as Rudolf 
does, for I believe so much influence was brought to 
bear upon her by her relatives that she had to yield, 
and I don't suppose she thought it would hurt Louis 
as it did." 

"It must pain her greatly to know she has caused 
such suffering," said Mabel. 

"I think it does, for her face has a sad expression. 
Rudolf, however, thinks her diamonds and other ap- 
purtenances of wealth are a balm for her every grief." 

"I think," said the girl, "a true woman could not 
find comfort in such." 

"She realizes that now, when it is too late. Ah, 
child, the world is full of women who have been sold. 
The slavery that existed among your people was a 
dreadful thing, but I hardly think it worse than the 
kind going on everywhere yet, and will go on as long 
as the greed for gold lives, and that will be till 
the end of all things earthly. I know numbers 
of women, bound by fetters they had to help forge, 
while their hearts are ceaselessly crying for liberty. 
I wonder how mothers can force their daughters into 
such mockeries as some marriages are." 

"My parents would rather see me dead," said Mabel, 
"than to have me wed that way, and I would not be 
guilty of such sin as I believe that to be." 

"A noble sentiment. Miss Gordon," said Colonel 
Chester, and, turning quickly, Mabel saw him stand- 
ing near the door. 

"I thought you had gone to ride," she said. 



MABEL GORDON 75 

"I changed my mind, you see, and came back to 
entertain, and be entertained by you, and I caught that 
last remark of yours, which I applaud, but doubt even 
your being able to resist a golden bait." 

"I have none of myself," she answered. 

"Neither have I, dear," said Mrs. Rowland, "and 
Rudolf has no right to say it of you." 

"Perhaps you will see her tried some time," he said. 
"You must take her into society, Augusta, and let her 
learn the ways of the world, of the dear ladies one 
meets at all the fashionable places of amusement 
during the week, and who on the Sabbath day don 
their church dresses and religion, and hie them away 
to service, where they respond with such grace and 
unction that it might deceive anyone. Take Eleanor 
for instance; she looks like a saint and is utterly 
heartless." 

"Are you not too hard on her?" asked Mabel. 

He frowned and pulled his moustache savagely. 

"My dear young lady," he said, "you are so kind 
to everyone, save myself, that you are incapable of 
judging. Wait until you see the wreck she made, 
and then you will not blame me." 

"But others have suffered as much as you have be- 
cause of your brother's sorrow, and yet not been made 
so bitter. There are v/omen who endure terrible 
agony of heart and mind and keep their sweetness. 
If men had the Refuge that most women fly to in 
trouble they could bear their sorrows better. Ah! if 
you knew the comfort I have found there in time of 
trouble you would want to know more of our Helper." 

"What do you know of sorrow," he asked, "young 
and care-free as you must be?" 

"Tell us what troubles you, dear," said her friend, 
"and let us help you bear it." 

"Thank you," she said gently, "but I do not like to 
speak of buried hopes, and I said what I did only to 



76 MABEL GORDONi 

let Colonel Chester know there was help for all grief- 
burdened souls." 

He looked at her curiously. Her face was so full 
of peace and sweetness it was hard to believe she knew 
aught of sorrow. Mrs. Rowland took her hand ca- 
ressingly in hers as she said : 

"My dear little girl, your life rnay have held much 
of sadness, but I shall try to brighten it in every way 
possible." 

Mabel smiled brightly and replied: 

"You are so kind to me I am quite happy here, and 
all that worries me is separation from my home 
folks." 

"You don't mind interfering with my happiness," 
said Colonel Chester, "as witness the way you treated 
me this afternoon." 

"You are not hurt much," she said, smiling. 

"Now, Rudolf, let her alone," said his sister. "Go 
off and try to get in a better humor, and, Mabel, get 
that book we were reading and let us finish it." 

"Why may not I enjoy the reading also?" he asked. 

"May he stay, dear?" questioned her friend. 

"If he wishes," she said quietly, and without a touch 
of consciousness she began to read in a low, clear 
tone, Colonel Chester leaning back in an easy chair 
and watching her face closely. 



MABEL GORDON K7 



CHAPTER XL 

Despite the knowledge Mabel held against Colonel 
Chester, she found him very interesting, even in his 
cynical moods, and she quit avoiding him, though 
she by no means sought his society. He was always 
cutting at her piety, calling her "Saint Mabel," and 
sneering at others who professed to be Christians. 

One evening he came along in time to hear the 
close of a talk between Mabel and his sister, and heard 
the latter say: 

"Yes, dear, go by all means. I know you will 
enjoy it, and if I were stronger I would go with you, 
but you will be in good company." 

Mabel turned away and he asked Mrs. Rowland: 
"Where does Miss Gordon want to go, and with 
whom?" 

"To church to hear the farewell sermons of two 
young missionaries who sail soon for a heathen land, 
and she is going to-night with our friends next door." 

"Do you suppose her saintship would allow me to 
accompany her?" he asked. 

"You, Rudolf!" exclaimed his sister. 

"Yes, I. She is so good she might take a notion 
that it is her duty to offer herself as a missionary, 
and you can't spare her, so somebody had better go 
along to keep her from committing an absurdity." 

And to Mabel's astonishment, when she came down- 
stairs, he was calmly waiting for her, and coolly said : 

"I am going with you to-night." 

She almost gasped, as she replied: 

"Do you know where I am going?" 

"Augusta told me, and for fear you may be seized 



78' MABEL GORDON 

with a notion that "you ought to accompany those half- 
witted creatures, who are giving up their Hves for a 
fancy, I deemed it best to go with you. Take my 
arm." 

It was the first time she had touched him, and as 
she sHpped her httle hand under his arm, he felt a de- 
gree of satisfaction and a kind of protectorship new 
to him, for, aside from his sister, many years had 
elapsed since a woman's hand had rested on his arm. 
He was well known in all the city, and his infidelity 
was no secret, so when he entered the church, with 
his handsome head bared, and a perfect manner toward 
his girlish companion, there was quite a stir among 
his acquaintances, all of which he understood, but 
was apparently unconscious of the sensation he cre- 
ated. 

There were some whispered comments which Mabel 
did not hear but he did, and his long moustache con- 
cealed the smile on his lips as he listened. 

He sat through the long services, conscious of feel- 
ing very comfortable. Somehow having that fair, 
earnest young girl near him, and for the time being 
in his care, was exceedingly pleasant. 

At the close of the exercises an appeal was made for 
money to help the young men in their work. Mabel 
took out her little purse to contribute as the plate 
reached her. Colonel Chester watching her all the time. 
Suddenly he quietly took the purse from her hand and, 
as she looked at him in amazement, he drew out of his 
pocket a roll of bills and laid them on the plate, leav- 
ing her purse in their place. Of course she could say 
nothing, but her face flushed, while an amused look 
flashed into his eyes. 

As they walked out of the church he drew her hand 
within his arm again, looking very grave as he did 
so. She was too indignant over his conduct to say 
anything to him, and they walked in silence. 



•MABEL GORDON 79 

"How did you enjoy the services?" he asked, at 
length. 

"Very much," she repHed. 

"I thought so. Once I really feared you were go- 
ing up there to offer yourself as a co-worker." 

"I wish I could do some good in the world," she 
answered. 

"Well, you can," said he. "There are heathen at 
your door, so you can begin your mission at once." 

"Who are they?" she asked. 

"I, for one, am called a heathen," he replied. 

"I shall not try to convert you," she said. 

"You won't! Isn't my soul, if I have one, precious 
to you? Why do you not want to convert me?" he 
asked. 

"r didn't say I did not want to convert you, but 
that I shall not try, for I don't want to have you tell 
me to attend to my own business. Besides, sir, you 
have every advantage all of us possess, and if you 
choose to neglect such an important matter you have 
only yourself to blame if you pass an eternity of woe," 
she answered decidedly. 

"No, I will not," said he. "I can blame such people 
as Eleanor Heath. I saw her to-night, and if my 
feelings had been devotional the sight of her false 
face would have changed them. Didn't you see that 
lady a few seats from us who looked at us so in- 
tently?" 

"Yes, sir, and I liked her face; it is very lovely, 
and has a sad expression." 

"It has a hypocritical look," he said. 

"Poor woman !" pitied Mabel. "She must suffer 
very much, and you are so hard on her. How do 
you know all she endured before she sent your 
brother away? And don't you suppose the thought 
of him, shut up in his lonely room while she is barred 
the privilege of seeing him whom she ruined, bound 



80 MABEL GORDON 

to another man and knowing she must sin even to 
think of her old lover, is bitterness indeed? Ah! be- 
lieve me, she suffers enough to satisfy even you, and 
because she turns to religion to find solace, you call 
her a hypocrite. You are unkind, Colonel Chester." 

"She has an able advocate in you," he said, "but I 
can't feel kindly yet. She may be sincere, and may 
have repented, but that does not bring back my 
brother's lost mind." 

"And the very hopelessness of it all makes her sor- 
row greater. I sympathize deeply with her, and so 
would you if you could know all," his companion 
replied. 

"Perhaps," he said. "I remember when Louis ad- 
dressed her and she accepted him. The boy was so 
happy, and when he told me of it he said, 'Rudolf, if 
you only knew how happy I am you would yield that 
heart of yours to some sweet girl,' and seeing his joy 
I did almost envy him then, but, oh, how he was 
crushed when she sent him away. He came to me so 
white and stunned. 'Brother,' he said, 'it is all over, 
and she will marry another man. She is false, and I 
believed in her as I did in God,' and he was never the 
same after that." 

"Poor fellow," sighed Mabel, her eyes full of tears. 
"How he must have suffered. But he did wrong in 
idolizing her as he did. Perhaps if he had not done 
that all might have been well." 

"Perhaps if old Heath had not offered himself and 
his great wealth all would have been different. There 
was no Providence in it, Miss Gordon, only a love 
of money." 

And seeing how useless it was to intercede, Mabel 
hushed. 

Their acquaintance progressed very well after that, 
and the more Colonel Chester saw of the girl the more 
he believed in her sincerity and earnestness. 



MABEL GORDON 81 

Several days after he went to church with her he 
came in with some tickets for tlie opera, and laid 
them in his sister's hands, who asked: 

"What does this mean?" 

"I want you and Miss Gordon to go with me to 
hear a celebrated singer," he said. "Where is she? 
I'll ask her myself." 

"You will find her in the library, writing a letter 
to her mother," replied Mrs. Rowland. 

He went in quest of Mabel and found her coming 
out of the room. 

"One moment," he said. "I want you to go to the 
opera to-night. You are fond of music, and a superb 
singer will be there." 

"I hardly know whether I can go or not," she an- 
swered. 

"See here," he said, "I went to church with you, 
and you might come with me to the opera. Your 
saintship will not be hurt at all, and it is such a treat 
to you I want you to enjoy it." 

"Does Mrs. Rowland approve?" she asked. 

"She does," he said. Then dropping his light tone 
he spoke, almost tenderly : 

"Child, can you not trust me at all? I would not 
do you any harm." 

"I do want to go so very much," she said. 

"Then make ready," he answered, "and look your 
best." 

As she turned to go he said, "Don't you want your 
purse?" 

"Indeed I do. Give it me, please," and she held 
out her hand for it. 

He laughed softly, and put her hand aside. 

"I really can't spare it," he said; "I need it, too. 
You may have what change is in it, but the purse I 
shall keep." 



82 'MABEL GORDON 

She couldn't understand his conduct, and she drew 
back a trifle coldly, saying: 

"If it gives you any pleasure to treat me thus you 
can do so, but I don't believe you keep my simple 
portemonnaie because you need it. I can't understand 
you, sir." 

"My dear young lady," he said, coolly, "there are 
many things beyond your comprehension, therefore 
do not tax yourself trying to solve them. I have your 
purse and I shall keep it, and in its place I offer you 
this," handing her a beautifully embossed portemon- 
naie with gold clasps. 

She looked at him in perfect amazement, and the 
color dyed her face, as she replied : 

"I am surprised, sir, that you should think I would 
accept a present from you. If you want my poor 
little purse you can have it, but I cannot take that 
from you." 

"Very well," he said, returning the pretty trifle to 
his pocket. "May I ask, Miss Gordon, if it is because 
I offer this to you that you refuse it, or do you not 
like it?" 

"I never take presents from gentlemen." she re- 
plied; "mother has always told me to decline them, 
and I should refuse that from anyone." 

"So your objection is not to me?" 

"Not entirely." 

"Miss Gordon," he said, "have you made up your 
mind to dislike me?" 

"And if I have, what then?" she asked. "It cannot 
be a matter of concern to Colonel Chester, woman 
hater and atheist, what a simple maiden feels." 

"Can it not?" he asked. "Perhaps you are right; 
at least for the present we will not discuss the mat- 
ter further. Go and prepare yourself, and Augusta 
also, for our musical treat to-night. At least you will 
allow me to furnish tickets for all, if you won't take 



MABEL GORDON 83 

my present." 

He saw her no more till she came down with Mrs. 
Rowland, ready to go to the opera, and as she turned 
toward the conservatory, he followed, saying: 

"I want a buttonhole bouquet, if you please. When 
you get what you want arrange me one." 

She bowed as she passed through the doorway, 
and in a few moments returned with some odorous 
roses for herself and a tiny boutonniere for him, which 
she handed to him, saying: 

"I hope this pleases you." 

"It is very pretty," he said, not offering to take it 
from her. 

"Aren't you going to have it?" she asked. 

"I am waiting for you to pin it on for me," he an- 
swered. 

"I prefer your doing that," she replied. 

"And I prefer your doing it," he said. 

Very quietly she took a pin, and proceeded to fasten 
the flowers, he looking down at her face to see if the 
swift color came to her cheek, but if he had been the 
errand boy she could not have been more composed or 
indifferent. Suddenly he said : 

"Look in that mirror near you," and then added 
softly, "Is it not a pretty picture?" 

What she saw in the glass was a tall, elegantly at- 
tired man, bending his head toward a slender girl, 
who stood with uplifted arms, busily adjusting flow- 
ers for him, and she moved away instantly. 

"You have spoiled it," he said, "and I was admir- 
ing the scene. Saint Mabel, you have no compunction 
at all, when you interfere with my pleasure, though 
you are all kindness to others. Do I not merit more 
from you?" 

"I certainly treat you, sir, with all the considera- 
tion you deserve," she returned. "Please let us go to 
Mrs. Rowland now," and she led the way out. 



84 MABEL GORDON 

Again was there a sensation when Colonel Chester 
showed himself in public with a lady besides his sis- 
ter, and many were the conjectures as to who she 
was. Ke saw the lorgnettes directed toward their 
box, and Mabel saw his face take on a look he always 
assumed when he locked 'his feelings away from every- 
one. He was perfectly satisfied with her appearance, 
and when the music began, and he saw her com- 
pletely carried away with it, her face beaming with 
happiness, he smiled and leaning near said : 

"I am glad to see you enjoying the music as you 
do. You shall interpret it for me." 

"You are so kind," she returned; "I shall always 
thank you for this." 

Again that rare smile lit his face, and he said no 
more. He saw several gentlemen looking at the girl 
by his side, as though they wanted an introduction, 
and young Oscar Fielding, the son of one of Mrs. 
Rowland's friends, was so glad to see that lady out 
once more that he came to their box to express him- 
self, and was presented to Mabel. Colonel Chester 
gave his chair to their visitor, and stood at the back 
of Mabel's, one hand resting on the chair, the other 
thrust in his coat, and though he showed no feeling, 
yet decidedly wished Fielding had stayed away, and 
was not sorry when it was all over, and they were 
seated in the carriage homeward bound. 

"Did you enjoy the evening, dear?" asked Mrs. 
Rowland of Mabel. 

"More than I can tell," she replied, and then was 
silent, while Mrs. Rowland talked. 

"Young Fielding asked permission to call, Mabel," 
she said. 

"And of course you gave it?" put in her brother. 

"Certainly I did, for he is an excellent young man, 
and the son of a dear friend of mine. Besides, Ru- 
dolf, Mabel must have more young company. Youth 



MABEL GORDON 85 

loves youth, and she will grow tired of her home if 
she is shut up there with an ailing woman and a cyni- 
cal man all the time. You would not have me tcJl 
Oscar to stay away?" 

"Oh, no; by all means let him come. He is con- 
sidered a catch by maueuvering mammas, and may 
some day ask for Miss Gordon's hand. You will feel 
that your duty is discharged if you can see her mar- 
ried to a long bank account." 

"I am not trying to catch him for Mabel, for I 
don't want her to wed anyone, but I know she will 
some time, and if she should choose someone near me 
I am selfish enough to be glad," retorted his sister, 
and the conversation stopped. 

As they reached home and Mrs. Rowland was as- 
cending the stairs to her room Colonel Chester 
stopped Mabel a moment to ask: 

"Of what were you thinking so intently on the 
way?" 

"Of my dear ones," she said, "and of the sweet 
singing." 

"And what of the music?" he asked. 

"I was thinking," she said softly, "if anything 
earthly could be so entrancingly sweet what must be 
the melody of the heavenly chorus, how unspeakable 
the joy of those permitted to join in those strains, 
and I was lifted out of myself with the thought. I 
think the music alone will be compensation to me for 
all I may endure on earth." 

He was conscious of a queer sensation in his throat, 
as he said : 

"You believe, then, that you will be in that heaven 
of which you speak. Why?" 

" 'I know that my Redeemer liveth,' " she answered, 
"and I know in whom I trust. Good-night, Colonel 
Chester." 

"Good night," he said softly, and as the girl went 



86 MABEL GORDON 

slowly np the stairway he still stood where she left 
liim, then he sighed, as he said to himself: 

"Had Eleanor been the trne-hearted being that Miss 
Gordon is, how different would life now be to Louis 
and me. But I must not trust too much, lest this 
girl should prove false, though all her life seems so true 
and pure." 



MABEL GORDON 87 



CHAPTER XII. 

Young Fielding was not slow in availing himself 
of Mrs. Rowland's permission to call, and he was so 
pleasant Mabel thought him quite an addition to their 
quiet life, and in her artless manner showed him she 
found his society enjoyable, and he was careful not 
to tire her. He found that their voices harmonized 
well, so he often called with songs for her to try with 
him. Sometimes a new book was an excuse, and 
again a drive. 

Once they passed Colonel Chester, and he lifted his 
hat with stately courtesy, but not a shade of a smile 
dawned on his face. 

"Colonel Chester is an elegant man," said Mr. 
Fielding, "but don't you find him so icy that it is dis- 
agreeable to be about him, save in warm weather?" 

"Is he icy?" queried the girl; "I had not observed 
it at all." 

Her companion looked closely at her, but her face 
was perfectly innocent. 

"Perhaps," said he, smiling, " he may not wish to be 
cold to you." 

"I am sure he treats everyone alike," she returned. 

He looked at her again keenly, and saw that she 
was sincere, for the fair cheek next him did not deepen 
in color, and her eyes met his too frankly for him to 
suspect that the cool, reserved lawyer had awakened 
more interest in her than any other gentleman, so he 
changed the subject, and devoted himself to entertain- 
ing Mabel delightfully. 

Mrs. Rowland was pleased with his attentions to 



88 MABEL GORDON 

her protegee, and assured Mrs. Fielding that if Oscar 
should in time grow, fond of the girl, she could wish 
him nothing more, "for portionless as she was, Mabel 
was a treasure." One evening after Fielding left, as 
Mabel was passing the library, Mrs. Rowland called to 
her to come in, and entering she saw Colonel Chester 
had come and settled himself for a cozy talk. 

"Your caller leaves early. Miss Gordon," he said, 
"or did you dismiss him?" 

"He left," she answered. "He does nothing for me 
to send him away." 

"A most delightful companion, I fancy. Augusta, 
do you know I met this young lady driving with your 
favorite, and she hardly returned my bow, so absorbed 
was she in what he was saying?" 

"Do not believe him, dear lady," said Mabel. "I 
was very polite." 

Mrs. Rowland smiled as she said : 

"I know Rudolf, dear child, so give yourself no 
trouble." 

"Seriously, Miss Gordon," continued he, "you are 
leading poor Fielding into a bad place. I don't par- 
ticularly admire him, but I hate to see anyone hurt." 

"How can I hurt him?" she asked. 

"Dear me, how unsophisticated ! Why, child, do 
you not know Fielding is deeplv in love?" he asked. 

"With me?" she said. "Oh,' Colonel Chester, how 
can you say so?" 

"Because it is so," he replied. "It is no secret 
among us, for he can't hide it. and I surely thought 
you knew it. If he has not declared himself he will 
soon, and then " 

"I earnestly hope you are mistaken," she broke in. 
"I could not love him, and I could not think of mar- 
riage." 

"But you might consider all that an alliance with 
him would bring you. He is very wealthy and his 



MABEL GORDON 89 

family excellent. You would be a leader in society." 

"Mabel cares so little for such," interposed Mrs. 
Rowland, "that I fear she will let a good man whom 
she might grow to love go away, but I have a horror 
of a loveless marriage." 

"What are you going to do about this, Miss Gor- 
don?" and Colonel Chester's brilliant eyes fastened 
themselves on her face. "You certainly will have to 
answer him soon." 

"Mrs. Rowland," said Mabel, "I want to go home. 
Can't I go?" 

"Ah," put in Colonel Chester. "You are not brave, 
Miss Gordon, else you would face this thing. Do you 
fear Fielding's wealth w^ll overcome your high ideas, 
that you fly?" 

She turned toward him, and her face showed indig- 
nation, as she replied : 

"You know better, sir. I only desire to save him 
the pain of a refusal in case your surmise is correct, 
and if Mrs. Rowland can spare me I will go home at 
once." 

Her lip quivered over the dear word "home," and 
Mrs. Rowland said: 

"You shall go, dear, but I will accompany you, for 
I fear once you get back among those dear home folks 
I will lose you." 

"So I have run you off," said Colonel Chester. 
"Pray make your stay short, for the house is unen- 
durable to me w^hen Augusta is away. Miss Gordon, 
your face is radiant already at the prospect of going 
home. I very much suspect Mr. Fielding has a rival 
in your sunny Southland." 

"You are mistaken again," she said; "I am much 
in love down there, but it is with my dear family — 
father, mother, Willie, Nellie, Mammy and Mal- 
viney." 

"And who is Mammy?" he asked. 



90 MABEL GORDON 

"Have I been so long in your house and never told 
you of her, and she so important?" asked Mabel. 

"It is possible," he said. 

"Well, she is our dear old nurse, and her face is 
black, aged, and some call her ugly, but to us she is 
charming. When I go home she will take .me in her 
arms and bless me, and rejoice over her 'chile,' and 
as she is very fond of Bible quotations, and frequently 
gets them wrong, she will tell me I am more like 
'sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal' than ever." 

"I suppose," said he smiling, "that she means to 
compliment you." 

"Indeed she does, and I shall receive it as such from 
her. Dear old Mammy! I always found a refuge in 
her arms, and she has enabled me to carry out many 
plans." 

"Does she live near you?" he asked. 

"Quite so, and Willie and I used to think a visit to 
her house as great a treat as mother could give us." 

"Would you eat there?" he inquired. 

"Certainly, and how we did enjoy our meals. She 
kept her best dishes put away, and only brought them 
out on state occasions, and when we were there. They 
always delighted us, with their improbable figures and 
flowers. You never ate out of such, I suppose." 

"Hardly," he said, smiling. 

"Then you've missed a treat. And now, Mrs. Row- 
land, had not you better retire, so you will be fresh to- 
morrow? I must hunt up presents for them all, and 
would like to have you go with me." 

"You give presents," said Colonel Chester in a low 
tone, as she came near him in leaving the room, "but 
you will not receive any." 

"It is more blessed to give than to receive," she 
flashed back. 

"Would you give me a present?" 

"Only to relieve necessity," she said. 



MABEL GORDON 91 

"I do not belong to the charmed circle, I see," he 
returned. 

"You do not care to," she retorted. 

"And if I should?" 

She opened her eyes wide with astonishment, as 
she answered : 

"I cannot for a moment think you would join my 
loved ones. I bid you good-night," and she was gone. 



92 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XIII. 

The preparations for their southward trip went 
rapidly on, and kept Mabel so busy that when Mr, 
Fielding called she begged to be excused, and that 
young man went away wondering if Colonel Chester 
had seen his devotion and stepped in and secured the 
prize. Still feeling chagrined and hurt he met the 
lawyer, and was so different from his usual self that 
it could not pass unnoticed, though Colonel Chester 
said nothing to him, and was coolly courteous as ever. 
But when he saw Mabel he asked in his grave man- 
ner : 

"What have you done to your devoted that he looks 
so cast dovv^n? I could scarcely get a bow from him 
when we met." 

"I merely begged to be excused when he called, for 
I was too busy to see anyone." 

"And you may have offended him, and thereby 
lost a fine offer. He has all the fashionable follies and 
many little sins, but doubtless some day he will be a 
shining light in the church — an example for us heathen 
to follow. His mother and Mrs. Heath are associated 
in all good works, and, of course, the lady is a Chris- 
tian of first magnitude, and it follows that the son 
will also do as he pleases and still be a light to others." 

"At least, sir," retorted Mabel, "he doesn't sneer at 
religion." 

"Neither do I," he replied : "I scoff at the exponents 
of religion, and those whose fruit is faulty I judge to 
be hypocrites. Miss Gordon, it is in the power of 
those who profess to be Christians to silence us all. 



MABEL GORDON 93 

If their lives showed their belief as they pretend to 
hold it, we could say nothing. Fielding takes the 
Lord's Supper with beautiful solemnity, so I am told, 
and I know he holds as fine a hand in "cards as you 
will see anywhere, and drinks with us heathen." 

"I do not defend his sins," she said, "but I am glad 
to hear that 'he acknowledges his Creator at all. It 
fills me with horror for anyone to deny the existence 
of that Being to whom we owe all we have and are, 
and the blessed hope of immortality. As long as Mr. 
Fielding believes in his Maker there is hope for him." 

"But none for me," he said. "Well, fortunately I 
am not troubled at all by the thought. I have no law- 
giver to hold me responsible for every thought or 
deed, though for my own sake I try to keep out of 
vice. My own self-respect restrains me, and every 
man, I think, should so conduct himself as to keep the 
respect of the world and himself. But enough of 
this. Are you coming back with my sister ? You are 
so happy in the thought of going home I fear you 
will not return, and for her sake I desire it very much." 

"And for her sake I shall try to overcome my long- 
ing for home, and come back." 

"Another thing," he added. "Please be so kind as 
to say nothing to your parents of my scepticism, for 
pious as they are, it might cause them to keep you 
from coming, and Augusta needs you so much." 

Not a word as to his feelings about her movements, 
and knowing him as she did Mabel took no notice of 
it. Why should he be interested personally in a simple 
girl — he whom brilliant and beautiful women had tried 
in vain to captivate? The thought of making an im- 
pression upon his heart was absurd, and then she held 
too much against him to want more than courtesy 
from him. She would not tell Mammy and her parents 
that he was the destroyer of their home. For Mrs. 
Rowland's sake she would keep back everything un- 



94 MABEL GORDON 

pleasant. Her friend took so much interest in her little 
gifts, and seemed so happy to see her joy. Colonel 
Chester said he thought they all should feel highly 
complimented in his household, because of Mabel's 
evident pleasure in leaving them. He went to the 
station with Mrs. Rowland, expressed kind wishes, 
and told Mabel "not to feel called upon to go as a mis- 
sionary while away; that there was still an unculti- 
vated field in his house, and it was surprising that she 
had let such a golden opportunity pass. Some women 
would have preached incessantly, and yet she had not 
once mentioned his soul's salvation to him." 

"Rudolf," said his sister, "please let this child's 
parting recollections be pleasant, for if you keep on 
teasing her she may not return with me, and just think 
how^ lost I w^ould be. Mabel, don't notice him." 

"I do not, madam," she said quietly. 

Colonel Chester bowed, and handed her out of the 
carnage with a grace seldom equalled, and told them 
good-bye, charging them to hasten back ; then he went 
to his lonely home, w-hile they sped on their journey 
southward, and w^hen Mrs. Row^land saw the joy 
Mabel's home-coming brought, she did not blame the 
girl for longing to return to her dear ones. 

Old Mammy hobbled forward, when the parents had 
greeted Mabel, clasped her in her arms and said : 

"Now, Lawd, I dun seed dy pow'r, an' dy serbant 
kin 'part in peace. Dese ole eyes is seed my blessed 
lam' once mo' an' dey is satisfied. Bless de Lawd, O 
my soul ! I so happy I boun' ter shout. Mis' Marget 
an' Mahster, 'scuse me, an' yo' lady, mus' let ole nig- 
ga tell de joy in her heart. Yuse had my chile long 
'nuff ter know how good she is, an' yer boun' ter on- 
derstan' me. An' she putty too ! Nobody g\vine call 
my baby ugly no mo'. Honey, I wuz pow'full skead 
sumbody up Norf would 'swade my chile ter fergit us 
all, an' when mistis say, 'Mammy, our darlin' is comin' 



MABEL GORDON "95 

home,' I jes' ^all down an' tried tuh tell de Lawd how 
t'ankful I feel, an' pray fer strank ter be hyur when 
yer cum, an' bless de Fadder, I'se hyur." 

Malviney greeted "little missy" with a shining face, 
though she did not give vent to all her mother did, 
and when Mabel brought out their gifts the faithful 
creature's delight knew no bounds. Mrs. Rowland's 
eyes were moist as she witnessed the joy in the humble 
home, and she said to herself, ''I wish Rudolf could 
see this." 

Mrs. Gordon watched her daughter closely. 

"Have you come back the same child you were?" 
she asked. 

"Do you see any change, Mrs. Rowland?" queried 
Mabel. 

"Only improvement, dear. You have a daughter I 
w^ould give much to call my own, Mrs. Gordon, and 
I feel that it is very selfish in me to keep her from 
you. She certainly reflects credit on her training." 

A bright smile from the girl thanked her friend, 
and Mrs. Gordon said : 

"I thank you for your praise, and for keeping my 
child as you did. We all know what a friend she has 
found in you, for Mabel's letters were full of your good- 
ness to her, and so you have won us all, especially me, 
for you know a mother's foolish fondness will cause 
her to love whoever loves her child. Mr. Gordon 
feared she might become so attached to her new friends 
as to forget her home folks, but I knew her loyalty 
too well to have one fear." 

Mabel took her mother's hand, and held it caress- 
ingly to her face, and her eyes were moist, but she 
said brightly : 

"I shall have to see father about that. He mustn't 
doubt his child at all. You and Mrs. Rowland talk 
on, and let me go to him now," and she left to find 
her father. 



96 MABEL GORDON 

He and Willie were talking to a man on business, 
and she waited till they were free, then she and Nellie 
walked out to meet them. 

"I declare, sis," said Willie, "you are as pretty as a 
picture. I wonder some chap up North didn't try to 
steal you from us." 

"They took enough of other treasures, my son," 
said the father, ''to spare us this one. I earnestly hope, 
my daughter, you came home as you left, and that 
you have sufficient of your father's pride in you to 
keep you from loving a man belonging to those who 
impoverished us and broke our hearts also." 

"Make yourself easy, father," she said, "I am in 
no danger. Willie has to talk nonsense to be himself. 
Don't let him disquiet you at all. But, father, I have 
a favor to ask, and that is, please don't say anything 
to wound Mrs. Rowland, for she is so kind and loves 
me as if I were her own blood." 

"My daughter," replied the old man, "I am a gentle- 
man, and the lady is our guest. I need say no more." 

"Forgive me, sir," she begged. "You are so in- 
tense in your feelings, and sometimes are carried away 
to such an extent you forget who is present, but I know 
that my father is a gentleman, and I thank the Lord 
for coming from such ancestry as I do." 

"She can get it all right if anyone can," said Willie, 
as the father drew Mabel's slender form to him. "She 
always could manage pa and ma. What is your secret, 
Mab?" 

"Love and respect," she answered. "You know the 
secret, too, brother, for you also have been taught to 
honor your parents. It is a beautiful thing, and adds 
so much to anyone. Nellie, I feel sure my brother 
makes a good husband, for he was a good son." 

"How is it, Nell?" asked the young man. 

The girl wife smiled as she replied : 



MABEL GORDON 97 

"I have much for which to thank his parents, for 
WilHe is all I can expect in a husband." 

"You may thank Mab, too," put in Willie. "She had 
lots to do in helping me to be somebody. A good sis- 
ter is a blessing to a boy." 

Still talking, they approached Mrs. Gordon, who 
was standing on the porch, and Mr. Gordon said, as 
he took her hand in his : 

"And the crowning blessing, my children, is a good 
mother, such as this one, who, though time has made 
some lines in her face and silvered her hair, is the 
fairest of all women to me." 



98 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XIV. 

Of course Mrs. Rowland had to visit the old nurse, 
Mammy was delighted with the kind manner of the 
lady, and seeing the interest she manifested in every- 
thing connected with Mabel, launched out on her fa- 
vorite theme, "de fambly." 

"How yer lak ter stay 'mongst us, mistis?" she 
asked. 

"Very much," replied the lady. "I've never en- 
joyed a visit more. Your people entertain well." 

"Ah, mistis," the old nurse said, shaking her head, 
"yer ain' gittin' no ennertainment now ter whut yer 
would hab ef my white folks wuz lak dey uster be. I 
wush yer could er cum erlong befo' de wah an' seed 
how we lib den. Yer see dem chimblys stannin' across 
de fiel' dar? Dat whar de big house wuz — de put- 
ties' place in all dis country, wid de big pillahs, an' 
de roses climbin' up ter de long piazzers, an' de wide, 
cool halls an' gran' rooms. An' de magnoly trees 
shaded an' sweetened de whole place. Dey wuz 'stroyed 
by de fire, too. An' de cumpiny — uh! de cumpiny 
we did have! I kin see Mis' Marget now, how she 
look all dress up in her shinin' silks, an' settin' at de 
head ob de table an' it all glitterin' wid silber an' glass 
an' chiny, an' Mahster so proud an' pulite an' dem 
blessed chillun growin' up lak beautiful flowers. Lawd, 
Lawd, we didn't had no thought den dat de time eber 
comin' when all dat would be gone foreber. De putty 
house in ashes, de chiny broke ter pieces, de silber 
gone. I 'members how proud we all uster be when 
de fine kerridge was drive up tub de do' an' Sam he 
sot dar hol'in' de lines, de proudes' niga in de Souf, 



MABEL GORDON 99 

caze he had sech fine people to take about an' sech 
fine hosses ter drive. Dey gone too, an' when my 
baby hyur wan' ter finish her eddication she had ter 
walk ter de village, after all we once had." 

"Never mind all that. Mammy," interposed Mabel, 
who feared Mrs. Rowland's feelings might be hurt. 

"But I do min' it, honey. It hu't me ter de heart, 
chile, den. I had ter t'ink ob de days when all dese 
fiel's was bloomin', an' plenty ob everything wuz made, 
an' my white folks had all dey needed. I'se nuttin' 
but a po' ignunt ole nigga, mistis, but I nebber could 
see whut Massa Linkum wan' ter take us all away 
fum Mahster. What he hab ter do wid us when we 
gettin' long all right ? Sum ob de niggas nigh erbout 
lose their senses when dey hear dey free, but I neb- 
ber 'joiced an' I ain' leff my folks yet. I b'longs heer, 
fer I bawn an' rais' a Gawdon." 

"You are certainly faithful," said Mrs. Rowland. 
"Dey faithful ter me. Dere ain' nuttin' in Mis' 
Marget's house too good fer me w^hen I needs it, an' 
dey tends ter me when I sick lak I one ur de fambly. 
which I iz. An' little missy hyur, an' Willie seem lak 
my own blood. Dem fine boys whut wuz killed lubbed 
me too. I 'member when dey went off — how han'- 
some and brave dey wuz, an' when Mis' Marget cry 
lak her heart would break, dey comfut her an' tell her 
dey would soon cum home. Ah, blessed Lawd, when 
dey did it w^uz ter fetch one home tuh bury him, and 
de odder had ter hurry back and leave his parents 
heart-broken, an' den when he 'scaped so menny bat- 
tles we hoped he would be spared, an' den, de news 
cum dat he was killed, an' den, oh, let me nebber see 
sech sorrow ergin, I thought Mis' Marget would die, 
an' Mahster go crazy. Yer eyes is wet, mistis, an' I 
lubs yer fo' yer feelin' heart, an' I knows yer hated tuh 
think of de sad hearts on bofe sides den. We stan' de 
loss ob dem beautiful boys de bes' we could. De 



100 MABEL GORDON 

Lawd gin Mis' Marget strangth an' she hep po' 
Mahster tuh bear de blow. I wuz in sorrer, too, an' 
when I heerd sum ob dese no-sensed niggas shoutin' 
caze dey free, I tole um I'd take a cheer and break it 
ober de head ob de fust one dat shouted 'roun' me, 
an' dey wanted to know if I hadn't lost my 'ligion ter 
talk so. I tole um 'twuz part ob my 'ligion ter weep 
wid dem dat weep, an' when my own heart wuz bustin' 
wid grief de tears mus' flow. Menny's de day dem 
now angel boys haz laid on my bres', an' when I t'ink 
o' um, now dat dey ought tuh be gran' men, ur lyin' 
in deir graves, one we don' know whar, Mammy's 
ole heart gits full'n her eyes dim," and the nurse bowed 
her head and swayed her body in her grief. 

Mabel gently took one withered hand in hers, and 
Mrs. Rowland, looking off saw the lone chimneys, 
and almost imagined them monuments to the soldier 
lads. 

When she found voice to speak, she said: 
"I honor you for your devotion to your friends, 
and I grieve also that such sorrow came to you and 
yours. I had two soldier brothers, and oh, how much 
agony I endured then, but God kindly spared them to 
me. Had they been killed life would never have been 
bright to me again. My sorrow came afterwards, 
and sometimes I almost feel that I could not have 
suffered more had they been slain." 

"So yo' suffered too, mistis," said Mammy. "Ugh ! 
it wuz er cruil wah, an' hurt us all. But, mistis, atter 
all yo' had yo' home lef, while my folkses butiful 
house wuz 'stroyed. I knows by de tennerness ur yo' 
heart none ur yo' people had it dun, an' I glad tuh 
know it. Me an' Mahster wuz 'posed ter little missy's 
gwine away, caze she mought be wid sum er dem dat 
had ur han' in it, but I satisfied now." 

"I am sure," said the lady, "that the one who de- 
stroyed this home must regret it sincerely." Then 



MABEL GORDON 101 

to change the subject, she asked, "Have you no other 
child than your daughter?" 

"Yessum, I had sevval," repHed the woman, "but 
nebber rais' but two. Cccsar waz my boy, an' a hkely 
young nigga. He wuz waitin' boy in de big house, 
an' de white folks thought de worl' ob him, an' no- 
boby b'lieved Csesar would tu'n fool an' go 'way, but 
he did, an' he gone yet. He an' Malviney ain' lak. 
His fadder warn't a Gawd'n. He 'longed ter sum 
folks dat run'd through all deir property an' waz 
sellin' deir black uns, an' tuh keep me an' him frum 
bein' pahted Mahster bought him, do' he nebber spe- 
cially lak'd dat blood, but he say it wuz a sin to sep'- 
rate famblies dat way, an' he bliebe de Souf sum day 
gwine ter suffer caze ur de way many on 'em dun." 

"You seem to have cared little for freedom," said 
Mrs. Rowland. 

"I had sech good white folks," replied Mammy, 
"but all warn't so lucky, an' Mahster uster to fret 
sometimes about it. Sum ur de black uns wuz spiled, 
sum wuz treated good, an' sum warn't. I know dat 
long ez my folks haz I sha'nt suffer an' I lubs ter t'ink 
er what dey iz had, ef dey haz ter do different now." 

To keep Mammy from getting on a subject that 
might embarrass her friend, Mabel suggested that 
she let her read before leaving. 

"Yas, do, chile," responded the old nurse, "fer yer 
voice lak sweet music when yer read de blessed prom- 
ises, an' I'se missed yer pow'rful all dis time." 

On their way back Mrs. Rowland said : 

"I wish Rudolf could have seen you as you were 
reading to that old nurse." 

"I am glad he did not," replied the girl, "for he 
would have sneered at me, and wanted to know if I 
had not some idea of becoming a lady preacher." 

"I wish he would quit talking in that way, for I 
know it is unpleasant to you, dear, but I hope you will 



lOS MABEL GORDON. 

not let it trouble you and cause you to refuse to return 
with me. I had a letter from him to-day, and he tells 
me Louis is not well, and if he gets worse I shall have 
to go home. Ah, dear, your brothers are in their 
graves, and of course you grieve for the brave soldier 
boys, but I don't believe I would sorrow more for 
Louis if he were in his final resting place. We all 
have our sorrows, child; no heart is exempt from 
trouble." 

"I know it, dear friend, and believe me I grieve 
with you over the loss of your brother's mind, and 
also do I sorrow over Colonel Chester's sad spiritual 
condition." 

"I bless the day, Mabel, that you and I met. That 
is one good thing the war did. It gave you to me, 
and, child, if you could know how you brighten my 
home and life you would gladly go with me. Some- 
how I feel that your mission is found, and you must 
not disappoint me." 

"You overestimate me, dear lady," replied the girl. 
"I feel my unworthiness keenly, but if the Lord would 
let me be the means of helping somebody, I would 
be so thankful. It is my greatest desire to do good 
in some way, no matter how humble." 

"I believe it, child. You certainly do me good, and 
I trust your faith may yet help Rudolf," said her 
friend. 

"Colonel Chester!" exclaimed Mabel. "Why he 
ridicules me in every way, and but for my love for 
you I should long ago have left there." 

"Don't let that affect you, please, and don't tell 
those pious home folks anything about his infidelity." 

"I shall not, for your sake," replied Mabel. "And 
now here we are at home. I hope your walk has given 
you an appetite." 

"If it has not, your mother's dainty viands will," 
returned her friend. 



MABEL GORDON 103 

Mabel did not take her friend with her when next 
she visited Mammy. She wanted to be alone with 
her nurse, and the old woman was impatient to have 
her "chile" as she once had. Very tenderly she ap- 
proached the subject which she wished to question the 
girl upon. Gently stroking Mabel's hand, as she held 
it between hers, she said : 

"Yer looks bright an' lak yer at res', chile. Iz yer 
min' free frum all 'membunce er dat botherment yer 
hab 'fore yer went away? Fse thought er heap er- 
bout dat, an' prayed de Lawd ter give yer strank ter 
obercome all de weakness ob yer heart. Young things 
is tender an' easy hurt, but dey heals fas', too, an' I 
hope all de trouble is gone." 

"I knew you were praying for me," replied Mabel, 
"and it helped me much, but some of the pain is with 
me yet, I am ashamed to say. I don't want you to 
think I long for him, but it was impossible to un- 
learn at once the lesson he taught me so well, un- 
worthy as he proved to be. I think in time I will over- 
come it all and life prove other than it has seemed to 
me." 

"Honey, duz dat kunnel lub yer?" asked the nurse. 

"Mammy! what on earth made you think that. 
Why he hates all women save his sister, and only 
tolerates me in the house because she needs me." 

"Huh !" grunted the woman ; "he mus' be blin' or 
'stracted not ter keer fer my chile, but I doan' wan' him 
ter fall in lub an' coax her ter tak' him. I got ernuff 
er dem folks long ergo, do' I doubts his bein' mean 
lak' dem I knowed, caze he sister so kin' an' good. I 
boun' ter lub her when I see yer both so wrap' up in 
each udder, an' ef yer goes an' takes one er de men, 
I s'pose ole Mammy'll hatter lub him too." 

"Spare yourself all uneasiness about that," said 
Mabel, smiling. "I am safe, I think, and it will be 
long before I will yield aught save friendly regard to 



10$ MABEL GORDON 

any man. The lesson I've had was severe and will 
last. But keep on praying for me and help me all 
3^011 can, for I am so frail it takes much aid to enable 
me to live as I should. No, you mustn't say a word of 
praise, for I do not deserve it," and she laid her hand 
softly on the woman's lips, for the old nurse was 
ready to burst into rapturous praise of "her baby." 

Then Mabel left, and obeying a sudden impulse, she 
turned her steps toward the bars where she and Allan 
had parted. She stood for a while in thought, and 
then her heart went out in earnest prayer for the friend 
she once loved, and for strength to put away all 
thought from her that might do harm. It was impos- 
sible for one of such strong feelings to drive out in 
a few months' time thcit which had been years in 
forming, and she realized her own inability to cope 
with herself, "so she threw her every grief and care 
upon the One to whom she had always been taught to 
go when in trouble, and He gave her peace. And none 
of the home circle saw anything in her face or manner 
betokening the conflict through which she had passed. 

When after supper they were gathered on the vine- 
embowered porch, and her father asked her for music, 
she went at once to her organ, asking what piece he 
preferred. As he had no choice, Mrs. Rowland asked 
her to sing "Annie Laurie." That was Allan's favor- 
ite, but she sang the swxet song through. 

Nellie, out of the experience born of her love for 
the gallant young husband, who sat near, and whose 
hand clasped hers fondly, thought there was a sad- 
ness in the face of the singer that the song alone did 
not bring, and she wondered who had ever touched 
Mabel's heart. Willie said she never had cared for 
anything but books and music, and perhaps he was 
right, but she doubted his knowing all. Feeling that 
locked up in the young girl's breast was the memory 
of a loved one, and remembering how wretched she 



MABEL GORDON 105 

had been once when she and Willie "fell out," the 
young wife felt a rush of tenderness through her heart 
for Mabel. Rising softly, she went into the parlor, 
stood by the girl, and as the music ceased she said : 

"I've come to help you, sister, if you will let me. 
Play something for me to sing, and then you shall give 
them more of your sweet voice." 

Mabel felt the sympathy the little act expressed, and 
she smiled as she touched Nellie's hand, resting on her 
shoulder. 

"Call Willie," she said, "and let us all sing. It is 
not often we have such a dear or appreciative audi- 
ence, and as we will soon have to return I want to 
give and receive all the happiness possible." 

"It will be hard to let you go," replied Nellie, then 
she called her husband and their voices soon floated 
out on the night air. Some time the three on the porch 
sat in silence, then Mrs. Rowland said : 

"I shall always remember with pleasure and I 
thank you for the delightful visit to your home. I am 
a better woman for the taste given me of life in this 
Christian household, and seeing the everyday life here 
I do not wonder that Mabel is the girl I've found her. 
I hope, dear friends, to some time have the pleasure 
of entertaining you in our home." 

Mrs. Gordon replied in her gentle manner, and Mr. 
Gordon said : 

"If Mammy could hear you express pleasure at this 
visit she would tell you that you should have come 
when 'de Gawdons' had something to entertain their 
guests with. Poor old soul ! she grieves more about 
our reverses than we do." 

"She ce^ainly is devoted to this family," said Mrs. 
Rowland. 

"And we have cause to love her," replied her host. 

"Indeed we have," said Mrs. Gordon. "I remem- 
ber when Robert was brought home, how she com- 



106 MABEL GORDON 

forted me. I was looking for my boys to come, and 
we were so happy fixing everything we could for 
them, and when we heard again James was bringing 
my blue-eyed boy here to bury him." The gentle voice 
stopped a moment, and when she resumed, the tears 
seemed near. "It was dreadful, and beside my dar- 
ling's body his faithful nurse knelt with me and we 
mingled our tears together. I thought I could not bear 
to see my other brave boy go back to his regiment, but 
it had to be, and oh, how I prayed for his life to be 
spared. He went all through the long, sad, struggle 
and almost at the end was killed. I fell unconscious 
at the news, and when I awoke Mammy's arms were 
round me and together we mourned for our boy. And 
when our home was destroyed she was our sympa- 
thizing friend, as well as slave. You can have no 
idea how strong is the tie between us, for you have 
never borne such grief, and cannot know what it is to 
suffer so much, and have the bond that mutual suffer- 
ing creates." 

"Believe me, dear friend, my own heart aches when 
I think of all you endured, and I do not wonder that 
we Northerners sometimes meet with a cold reception. 
The memory of such sorrow is enough to embitter any- 
one," Mrs. Rowland said earnestly. 

Mr. Gordon had been silent while his wife spoke, 
but he answered his guest: 

"You are right, ma'am, and the memory will last 
as long as life. I feel no bitterness toward those who 
met our men in fair fight, but for those who pillaged 
and burned, and made war upon defenceless old men 
and women I will always have the bitterest feelings. 
You do not have any conception of what one feels to 
stand by powerless and see the things he loves ruth- 
lessly broken, and the torch applied.to his home. I am 
glad to know our men left behind them no such recol- 
lections for the people among whom the fortunes of 



MABEL GORDON 107 

war cast them for a time. I would hide my head 
with shamcif they had forgotten what was due others 
in warfare of a civiHzed age, and brought dishonor 
upon their noble commander, whose order was explicit 
that his men must deport themselves like men. I did 
not want the war, madam, and fought hard to avert 
it. True, I held slaves, but I would have freely given 
every one his freedom if that could have kept off that 
cruel struggle. I think Mr. Lincoln transcended his 
authority and invaded individual rights when he is- 
sued his proclamation of emancipation, and it 
naturally aroused my indignation; but when I 
looked into the future, and saw the sorrow and pain 
in store for us all should the conflict come, gladly 
would I have sacrified to save it, but, ah! it came, 
and we were sacrificed then. Everything is gone — 
property, home, and above all, my boys." 

The old man rose and paced the floor, and the sighs 
that burst from him showed that time had not yet 
healed the wounds in his heart. Mrs. Rowland could 
say nothing to comfort him, for in the presence of 
such grief she felt powerless. 

Knowing she must feel the situation keenly, Mrs. 
Gordon said to her husband : 

"Dear, you must not let yourself feel as you do, or 
at least don't give vent to such feelings now — you 
pain our friend, and no good is done. If grief could 
bring back our boys they would long ago have glad- 
dened our home again, for only a bereft mother knows 
how my heart has almost broken under its load of 
sorrow. I try to believe it is all for the best. I know 
an All-wise One governs us, and He can make these 
present afflictions work out for us a far more exceed- 
ing and eternal weight of glory. In His hands I place 
my all, and some time the fruition of this hope will 
come. I shall have my children with me forever, 
where no trouble comes — where no man can take from 



108 'MABEL GORDON 

US our home, and in that 'home not built with hands' we 
all will spend an eternity of bliss. I rejoice that at 
last we may all lay down the differences of earth, and 
meet in that fair land where all is peace and love, and 
having this hope let us bury the dead past and try to 
forgive as we want to be forgiven." 

"Amen," said Mrs. Rowland softly. "Dear friend, 
I wish more of our women could feel as you do." 

"You know more of m}^ feelings, perhaps," replied 
Mrs. Gordon. "Let us go in now and we will not 
again recur to so sad a theme while you are here. I 
beg your pardon for making you feel bad over our 
troubles." 

"Indeed, I am glad to hear some one on the other 
side talk, for I know my own already, and it is im- 
possible to judge a people correctly until one knows 
all," responded the guest. 

"And that, dear friend, you can never know," said 
Mrs. Gordon, "for one has to live through it to know 
all. Still we appreciate your fairness and kindly feel- 
ing, and if your people were all like you the breach 
between us would heal quickly. I am glad you have 
come among us, and it will always be a pleasure to 
have you in our home. The young people are sing- 
ing my song now; let us go in and enjoy them a 
while." 

"Make the most of Mabel," said Mrs. Rowland 
smiling, "for I shall rob you of her again soon. Ru- 
dolf wants me to return, and if you are willing I 
shall go in a few days. Mabel can come home when- 
ever she feels that she must see her dear ones." 

Mrs. Gordon sighed, as she answered : 

"The time has flown so rapidly since she came I 
hardly feel that she has been with us, and we will 
miss her sadly." 

"I know it," responded the other, "but think of 
me, whom God in his wisdom saw fit to deny the 



MABEL GORDON 109 

blessed gift of children, and pity my loneliness. You 
have your manly son and his sweet wife to brighten 
life for you, while if Mabel is taken from me I will 
be alone, save for Rudolf, and he is so engaged with 
his business he is very little company for me, and you 
know where my poor Louis is." 

"Forgive me for allowing a very natural selfishness 
to cause me to want to keep my child. We are all 
more or less selfish, I know," and Mrs. Gordon smiled 
as her guest replied : 

"I plead guilty." 

And then as they were ready to disperse for the 
night the mother leaned over the fair 3^oung song- 
stress, whose face was lifted for the "good-night" kiss 
and blessing. Other "good-nights" were interchanged, 
then ere long silence fell upon the household. 

As Mrs. Rowland was almost asleep she said to 
Mabel : 

"Somehow I feel that the Angel of Peace keeps spe- 
cial watch over this house," and Mabel answered 
softly : 

"I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for 
thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." 



110 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XV. 

In a short while Mabel again said a sad good-bye 
and started northward with her friend. Colonel 
Chester met them at the station and right glad was he 
to w^elcome them home. Putting up his glass, he eyed 
Mabel keenly, then said : 

"Well, Miss Gordon, your stay upon your native 
heath hasn't improved your appearance. You are not 
looking as bright as when you left. Are you ill?" 

"She's tired from the journey, Rudolf," said his 
sister. "You men are so ignorant!" 

"Thank you," he said gravely; "I acknowledge mine 
freely. I didn't know to what to attribute her changed 
looks. The thought occurred to me she might be 
grieving about having to leave a place where piety 
was rampant to dwell in ^.the same house with a 
heathen, such as I am called." 

"Rudolf, you shall not begin teasing this child as 
soon as she reaches home," said Mrs. Rowland. 

Mabel turned and looked him in the face as she said 
a little coldly: 

"Among your many imperfections. Colonel Ches- 
ter, I failed to see egotism, but if you think that I have 
no pleasanter subject to dwell upon, or that you oc- 
cupy my thoughts to such an extent, you are an ego- 
tist of the first magnitude. I am not troubling my- 
self over your condition." 

He bowed, as he said : 

"So I perceive. I admire your candor, if you do 
thereby assure me that it is of no consequence to 3^ou 
whether or not my soul is lost. But I understood that 



MABEL GORDON 111 

your religion made those who profess it anxious to 
save everyone." 

"I said, sir, that I was not troubUng myself about 
your spiritual condition, because I believe in His own 
good time God will open your heart to receive the 
truth. How you will be led to seek Him, or by what 
agency He is to reach you, I have no idea." 

"But you know I will yield. Your faith is very 
pretty, and it is a pity for you to be disappointed." 

"I shall not be," she answered. 

The conversation ended there, and he tried to let 
the girl see he was indeed glad to have her with him 
once more. He watched her manner when she met 
her gentleman friends, and it was impossible to see that 
she was more interested in one than another. She was 
going out to a musical entertainment with Mrs. Row- 
land one evening, and as she passed the library door 
she saw him standing near the open grate, thought- 
fully looking at the glowing coals as though he had 
involuntarily paused in his walk. Hearing her foot- 
step, he looked around and then walked slowly to her. 

"Could you spare me a little time after you return 
to-night?" he asked. 

"It will be late," she said. 

"No matter; I will be awake, and you can get back 
your sleep to-morrow. I will not keep you up long." 

He looked so grave she was uneasy. 

"Have you heard bad news that you wish to tell 
me?" she asked. 

"I cannot say yet," he replied, "but don't let me 
drive the roses from your face. You must look your 
best to-night, and, by the way, you do look well. 
That dress is very becoming, and your bonnet crowns 
your curls beautifully." 

"A compliment from Colonel Chester is so rare it 
should be appreciated," she answered, smiling. "I will 
give you a fiovk^er for that nice speech." 



113 MABEL GORDON 

He took the offered bud, and fastened it in his but- 
tonliole, saying as he did so : 

"And a favor from Miss Gordon is also rare enough 
' to be highly prized. Don't forget you will find me 
here when you come home; and please let me see you. 
An admirer of yours approached me to-day in regard 
to you and I promised to see how you feel toward 
him." 

"I can tell you now," she said. 

"Can you? Well, I prefer to lay the case before 
you as it should be and then get a decision." 

"You lawyers will bring your cool ways into every- 
thing," she retorted. 

"Even into Cupid's court," said he. "Well, we play 
such an important part in the cases that sometimes 
result from his court that it is a pity our ways could 
not come in sooner. A little more reason might save 
many heartaches and lots of expense. But I am de- 
taining you, so I'll wish you a very happy evening 
and many beaux. I believe they are essential to all 
young ladies' happiness." 

"Now you are getting back to your usual style," she 
said, "and I wish I had kept my flower." 

"As it is the first gift you ever made me, I shall 
keep it," he said. "Of your abundance you might 
give me one small flower." 

"Keep it, then," she said ; "I shall not miss it. Good- 
night, till I see you again." 

"Good evening," he replied, and she left him to go 
to Mrs. Rowland, who had tried to induce her brother 
to accompany them and failed, because he said he had 
an important case on hand and had to think much. 

But not long after they had been seated and were 
enjoying the evening, Mabel saw him making his way 
to them. He had exchanged his home suit for a fault- 
less evening one, which set off his fine figure perfectly. 

"What a splendid looking man Colonel Chester is," 



MABEL GORDON 113 

remarked a lady near them, "and what a pity he is 
such a woman hater." 

Bowing easily to his many acquaintances, he 
stopped by Mabel, who smiled a welcome. 

"I am glad to see you, brother," said Mrs. Row- 
land, "and I also see men can change their minds as 
quickly as women." 

"You do not want a monopoly, do you?" he asked. 
"Certainly we change our minds sometimes. I am 
more changeable than Miss Gordon. She is always 
sure she is right, and no ordinary power can change 
her once her mind is made up." 

"Hush, please, and let us enjoy this entrancing 
music. You and I can quarrel when we go home. I 
believe you really enjoy that more than anything 
else. What made you come?" asked Mabel. 

"A polite question, truly," he returned. "Suppose 
I tell you it was to be with you." 

"I shall not believe you," she answered. 

"As you please," he said. 

She turned away, her color heightened, and when 
she next looked at him he was apparently oblivious of 
her existence. When a gentleman came and asked 
permission to show her some beautiful flowers he 
quietly made way for the newcomer, who took the 
girl to the conservatory and there saved Colonel Ches- 
ter the trouble of stating his case for him. When 
Mabel returned to Mrs. Rowland the lawyer looked 
keenly at her face, and a peculiar smile shone on his 
own as she said to her friend that if it was agreeable 
to her she would like to go home. Mrs. Rowland was 
ready to go, and Colonel Chester rose, offering an 
arm to each. When they reached home he said, as he 
helped Mabel from the carriage : 

"Remember, I shall look for you to come to the li- 
brary or parlor after you have seen Augusta settled 
for the night." 



114' MABEL GORDON. 

"Very well," she replied, and when she had finished 
her ministrations to Mrs. Rowland she went down to 
the parlor, wondering greatly what he had to say. 

He was sitting with his head thrown back, reveal- 
ing his shapely throat, and she paused a moment to 
look at the unconscious grace of his figure. 

He did not hear her enter, nor know of her near- 
ness till the odor of the flowers she wore floated over 
him, when he rose, and, offering her a chair, said : 

"You came before I expected you, and caught 
me " 

"Napping, I thought," she broke in, "and it's what 
I should be doing. Will not your talk keep till to- 
morrow ?" 

"Yes," said he, "but I want to lay this matter be- 
fore you and let you be considering, and to-night 
seemed a good time. Von Bulow asked me to see you 
for him and to learn something of the state of your 
affections. He is desirous of addressing you, and 
has a morbid fear of a refusal, so deputed me to as- 
certain how he stood." 

"It seems to me a man could plead his own case 
best," she answered. 

"I think so," he replied; "but we have to allow for 
peculiarities, you know. Am I to tell him there is 
any hope for him?" 

"I think not," she replied. 

"But, Miss Gordon," said he, "you must not forget 
the advantages that a union with him means. He is 
considered a decided catch in the matrimonial mar- 
ket." 

"I do not love him," she said, "and there could be 
no advantage to either in such a marriage. He is very 
pleasant as an acquaintance, and that is all he can ever 
be to me." 

"So you still hold to the ideas you advanced when 
you first came? I thought perhaps you had grown 



MABEL GORDON 115 

worldly-wise since seeing more of life. Poor Von 
Bulow ! I am sorry for him, for he is in dead earnest." 

''If you are done with me I will leave you now," 
she said, rising. 

"Keep your seat, please," said he; "I have more to 
say." 

He took a few turns about the room, then he paused 
before her. 

"Miss Gordon," he said, "if you will not hear me 
for another, will you listen to me plead for myself?" 

She looked at him in wide-eyed amazement. 

"Colonel Chester!" she exclaimed, "what can you 
mean ?" 

He smiled at her look and answered : 

"Simply that I love you and want to make you my 
wife. I promised Von Bulow to see you for him, and 
I have done my best. 'Twas hard, but I laid my feel- 
ings aside till his case was disposed of, and now I am 
free to seek your hand. I know you are surprised, for 
I have not revealed my feelings much, and you, not be- 
ing vain, never saw even what I showed. I love you 
with all my heart, and if you will give me the keeping 
of your young life I will cherish it as my most pre- 
cious possession. Is there any hope for me? I pray 
you to deal candidly with me. Answer me, Mabel." 

"I don't know what to say to you, for I am dumb 
Vv'ith astonishment. How could you call me such 
names as you did, and sneer at me if you loved me? 
Love is kind, and you were not." 

"Still, I love you," he said, "and I am very much 
ashamed of my rudeness. Your truth and purity com- 
pelled my respect, and your gentleness and sweet- 
ness crept into my heart before I knew it. Won't 
you say 'yes' to me?" 

Her eyes fell even lower, and her face was very 
white as she answered : 

"The truth compels me to say 'no.' " 



116 MABEL GORDON 

"Don't tell me that unless you want to kill me," 
he cried. "Child, be merciful to me. I, who never 
asked mercy of anyone, who have never bowed to any 
woman, lay my all at your feet, and beseech you for 
mercy. Oh, come to me, Mabel, and bless my life 
with your love." He knelt before her, his voice low 
and sweet, his face full of emotion and never hand- 
somer; but beyond the pleading lover she seemed to 
look, and she saw a band of angry men, a group of 
frightened slaves, her father's agonized face and her 
mother's anguish as she clasped the children to her 
breast to shut from them the sight of their burning 
home, and the man now pleading for her love was the 
one who had no mercy upon them in their helpless- 
ness. 

Then, too, he scoffed at religion, and what con- 
geniality could there be between them? None, she 
thought, and as he awaited her answer it came. 

"It is impossible," she said quietly; "I do not love 
you." 

"Mabel," he said, "stop. Have you thought what 
*no' from you means to me? You will take from me 
the sweetest hope I ever knew, for while you gave 
me no reason to think you cared for me, yet I did build 
air castles, and hoped that when you knew of my great 
love your heart would answer mine. Is there anyone 
before me? Perhaps you can learn to love me, and I 
will be so patient if you will promise me even to 
try." 

"I can make no promise," she said. 

"Let me hope, please," he begged. 

"I don't think my feelings will change, and it would 
be wrong to encourage you when you might never get 
a different answer," she said firmly, though her face 
was troubled. 

"Still I shall hope," said he, "and that will brighten 
life for me." 



MABEL GORDON 117 

"I tell you plainly," she said, "that I do not love 
you, and if you hope in vain you have only yourself to 
blame. You had better try to throw^ all thought of 
me away." 

"Tell me to pluck out my heart and cast it from 
me. It will be as easy to do one as the other. No, 
Mabel, this love has come to stay till death stills every 
throb. Once is always with me, and you are queen 
of my heart now and forever." 

"I am more sorry than I can tell," she said, "and as 
this is painful to both, let us end it." 

"You will not avoid me?" he asked. "Please let 
our friendship go on as it was, and I will not trouble 
you. I shall be gone for several days, and when I re- 
turn give me a welcome, I pray you." 

"I will try to be to you as always, and please give 
Mrs. Rowland no thought of what has occurred," 
begged Mabel. 

"One word more," he said as she rose. "If you had 
never loved at all could I win your heart?" 

"No, sir," she replied quietly. 

"You are cruel," he said. 

"I think not," she answered. "Under the circum- 
stances I can do nothing else. Good-night, Colonel 
Chester." 

He extended his hand and she placed hers in it. 

"Dear little hand," he said; "what would I not 
give to own it? Let me have it, please, Mabel." 

"Impossible," she said. 

He raised it to his mouth and kissed it softly, then, 
sighing deeply, he let her go. 



118 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XVI. 

To Mabel's great relief Colonel Chester was called 
away to attend to some legal business, before she met 
him again after his declaration, and when he returned 
she could greet him with perfect composure. He was 
extremely polite, kind, and apparently forgetful of all 
that had passed between them. He was engaged in a 
hard case, requiring all his skill. Mrs. Rowland feared 
he would hurt himself in his anxiety for his client. 

"Rudolf is so true," she said to Mabel. "He gets 
nothing for defending that poor woman, but gives his 
time as faithfully as if he were to receive thousands. 
I wish you could see him when he is roused. He is a 
wonderfully gifted man and such a brilliant speaker!" 

"I judge him to be all that, and do not wonder you 
are proud of him," answered the girl very quietly. 

"He deserves everything I feel, and I do wish he 
had a good wife to help me love him. I know he 
would almost worship a woman if he ever should love, 
and she could not give him more devotion than he 
merited, but I am afraid he will always live as he is. 
My poor boys! both would have appreciated happy 
homes, and yet they are condemned to lonely lives. 
Louis shut up in an asylum, and Rudolf, for his sake, 
losing faith in womankind." 

Mabel was silent, for she knew who was condemn- 
ing Colonel Chester to a loveless life, and was so 
sorry, but not an emotion of love stirred her heart. 
The last bit of antipathy for the destroyer of her 
home would have to be conquered before she could 



MABEL GORDON 119 

feel any tenderness for him, and then there was his 
infidehty in the way. So time passed on, and the 
household moved on quietly. Oscar Fielding came 
back from a European trip and renewed his visits, but 
only as a friend was he received. 

One warm day in early spring, as Mabel was en- 
tering the house, she met Colonel Chester on the 
steps. 

"Miss Gordon," he said, looking closely at her, "I 
fear you are not well. Your face is very much flushed. 
Are you sick?" 

"My head aches and I am very warm. I will soon 
be well. Please don't disturb yourself about me," she 
answered pleasantly. 

"\A^here have you been?" he asked. 

"To see the little boy who brings us fruit. He is 
quite sick and wanted to see me. I have been twice 
to see him." 

"You have been there !" he exclaimed. "Didn't you 
know a malignant fever was raging in that part of 
the city? I fear you have it now." 

"Then," she said, quietly, "I will get ready to go to 
a hospital for such diseases." 

"While I have a home ! You go there ! Child, are 
you crazy? Go to your room at once, while I myself 
go for our physician." 

"Tell Mrs. Rowland to keep away from me," she 
said, "for she is so delicate she could not stand an at- 
tack." 

"I will see to her," he said. "Now go and try to 
make yourself comfortable till the doctor comes," and 
away he went. 

He found Dr. Warren just getting into his car- 
riage, and he looked his surprise as the lawyer came 
up in haste. 

"What is wrong?" he asked. 

"Everything," was the reply. "Miss Gordon has 



120 MABEL GORDON 

this fever now so prevalent, and I am fearfully un- 
easy about her. Hurry to her, doctor, and save her if 
you can." 

The good ftian looked troubled. 

"Get in and ride with me. Tell me how long she 
has been ill," said he. 

"She is just taken, and already I am nearly dis- ' 
tracted. Doctor, if she dies count Rudolf Chester 
dead, too, for my life is bound up in hers. Save her 
if you care for me," he pleaded. 

"My dear boy," said his friend, "the issues of life 
and death do not rest in my hands. A higher Power 
must decide, yet I will do all that human skill can do 
for her. She is young and strong-, and with care may 
recover. But I am amazed to know you love any 
woman. She seems to be a good girl, and if you can 
win her she will be a blessing to you." 

A deep sigh was his answer, which the doctor in- 
terpreted as fear for her life. 

Colonel Chester left his friend at Mabel's door, then 
he sought Mrs. Rowland to tell her of Mabel's danger 
and suggested her leaving the house till she was safe. 

"I won't do such a heartless thing," indignantly re- 
plied his sister. "Leave here while Mabel is so ill and 
only a hired nurse to care for her, after I promised her 
good parents to treat her as a daughter. Indeed, I 
shall stay where I can hear from her every hour. I 
am surprised at you, brother." 

"I was only thinking of the danger to you and your 
inability to endure such an attack," he answered. 

"Well, please think of Mabel, too," she replied. 
"We will get the best nurse to be found, but I must 
stay here near m}?- poor child, even if I can't be allowed 
to attend her." 

Think of Mabel ! If his sister could have known 
how he thought of her she would have been amazed. 
Could he think of anything else while she was suffer- 



MABEL GORDON 121 

ing? Business might go till she was out of danger, 
and whether his partner attended to it or not, he could 
not put his mind upon it then. He waylaid Dr. War- 
ren every time he left her to ask for tidings of the 
sick girl. 

"No change for the better yet, my boy, but while 
there is life we will hope. She is in good hands. 
Don't let her people know that she is very ill, though 
you'd better inform them she is sick. I have forbidden 
letter writing till she gets stronger, as they may be 
uneasy over her silence. Poor child, it is pitiful to 
hear her talk of home and loved ones there. She is 
living her childhood days again in her delirium. If 
vou can ever win her heart you'll get a treasure, my 
iDoy." 

"If!" Ah, that "if." With death seemingly de- 
termined to snatch her from them, his hopes seemed 
vain, and then if she lived, what was there in him to 
please a lovely girl? "Nothing," he answered him- 
self, and yet every hope was fastened to her. 

- In the midst of all the anxiety about the sick girl 
there came a letter from her father commanding her to 
return home just as soon as she could do so, as they 
were in sore trouble. 

A young negro, one of those Mammy called "idlin' 
trash," had insulted Willie's wife, and the young man, 
boiling with rage, instantly shot the negro, who died. 
Willie had been arrested, and, owing to the condition 
of the State, his parents feared the trial, which was 
being hurried through, would go against him. Nellie 
and Mrs. Gordon were almost wild with grief, and 
Mabel was needed at home. 

"What are we to do !" exclaimed Mrs. Rowland. 

"Troubles never do come alone. Brother, you must 
go down there and use your influence in the boy's be- 
half. I can't leave here now, and could do no good 
by going. You will have to get off at once, too." 



122 MABEL GORDON 

His heart fairly sickened. Leave while she was so 
low, and he might never see her again ! How could 
he! To Dr. Warren he went with the new worry. 

"You'll have to go, Rudolf," said his friend after 
hearing him. "You can't really do any more here, 
save to help sustain your sister, who seems to be doing 
right well, and don't you know that you will be serv- 
ing Miss Gordon better by helping her brother? She 
would lay down her life for her loved ones, and if she 
could know she'd tell you to go. I'll take all possible 
care of your darling." 

'T must see her before I leave," said the lover. 

"You can do so, but prepare yourself to be shocked," 
warned Dr. Warren. "I'll send the nurse out for an 
airing so there'll be no gossiping in case you give way. 
When you see her pass the door, come up." 

He waited impatiently till then, and immediately 
went softly up to the sick room. Dr. Warren beck- 
oned him in, and he stole noiselessly to the bed, draw- 
ing his breath hard as he looked at her and noted the 
ravages of the fever. They had cut off her hair, and it 
rioted in little curls over her head. Her cheeks were 
flushed, and eyes unnaturally bright, and the slender 
hands moved restlessly about the bed. 

"She is practicing her music lessons," explained the 
doctor. "It seems she is very anxious to perfect her- 
self, and please a dear friend. Sometimes she says 
she's tired, and tells 'Viney' they will sit down and 
rest a while, and again she comforts 'Mammy,' telling 
her not to grieve over their losses — that she will suc- 
ceed in finishing her education anyhow, and the labor 
will make her success sweeter." 

Colonel Chester groaned. 

"Might I take her hand ?" he asked. 

Dr. Warren shook his head. 

"Look at her," he said, "but don't touch her, and 



MABEL GORDON 123 

at your peril don't kiss her. You might take this 
fever." 

"I would die for her," declared the lover, 

"She needs your life more now, and you can do 
more good by living," said the doctor. "Go down 
South and save that precious brother if you can. 'Twill 
help your case to try, even if you fail." 

As though to stamp her face forever on his mem- 
ory, he stood with his gaze riveted; then he stooped 
and whispered, "Mabel, give me some sign that you 
know I am near." 

A long-drawn breath, and she murmured, "Allan." 

Colonel Chester almost reeled. 

"Mabel," he breathed again, "it is I, your lover, Ru- 
dolf, who speaks to you." 

"Yes, Allan," she whispered, "I know. Poor Al- 
lan ! God help you bear it." 

His face paled, but again he bent so near the dainty 
ear his moustache mingled with her curls. "Darling," 
he breathed, "only call my name. Say 'Rudolf.' " 

"Rudolf," she panted, "no — Allan, poor Allan." 

Dr. Warren saw him turn deadly white, and he laid 
his hand on his arm. 

"Hush !" he said ; "she can't understand, and I don't 
want her to begin about him." 

"Who is he?" asked Colonel Chester, hoarsely. 

"Someone of whom she was once very fond," re- 
plied his friend. "Don't try to get her to speak to 
you. I want her to sleep if she can, and you must only 
be still and watch her." 

The long lashes rested on her cheek and her bosom 
rose and fell in quiet sleep when the silent watcher 
stole away. On leaving. Dr. Warren sought him for 
a few parting words, and found him in the library, his 
arms stretched upon the table and head bowed thereon. 
As he raised his face upon the doctor's entrance, the 
old man was touched at its mute misery. 



124 MABEL GORDON 

"Rudolf," he said gently, "I came to tell you she 
seems to be resting nicely. I know you were shocked 
at the change the fever has made in her looks, but she 
is young and clear grit through and through, and she 
is getting every attention. I am doing all a human 
being can do, for I never was more interested in a 
patient. Your darling will live, boy. Don't grieve in 
this way. You can't afford it at any time, and now 
you need all your strength. I think she will live, but 
if she should die, we all know her pure spirit will be 
'forever with the Lord.' " 

A deep groan was the only answer, and the old 
friend would have given much to have been able to 
assure him of a happy meeting with his dear one in a 
better land, but not one ray of light shone o'er the 
darkened way to the agonized lover. For him the tomb 
shut off all life. He knew nothing of One who has 
declared, "I am the resurrection and the life," and who 
has taken from death its sting, and the grave its vic- 
tory. 

Dr. Warren laid his hand on the splendid head and 
said softly : 

"I would help you bear this if I could, lad ; there is 
only One I know of that can, and to Him I commit 
you. SJie believes in Him. She puts up her hands 
like a child sometimes, imagining herself at her moth- 
er's knee, and says the simple child-prayer, 'Now I lay 
me down to sleep.' " 

The old man's voice was too husky for speech; 
Colonel Chester's head sank lower, but no words came, 
and, believing it best to leave him alone, his friend 
left. 

Rudolf had to crush his feelings to hide what he 
suffered lest his sister should suspect how he loved 
Mabel. ]\Irs. Rowland gave him cheering messages 
to take to the Gordons, promised to keep him informed 



MABEL GORDON 125 

of the girl's condition, and charged him to be very 
careful of himself and not get into any trouble. 

"Oh, these hot-headed Southerners!" she exclaimed; 
"why can't they have more patience?" 

"Do you suppose any man who is anything of a 
man would let his wife be insulted?" said Colonel 
Chester sternly. 

"No, of course not," returned his sister; "but they 
are too ready with their guns." 

"You don't know the circumstances in this case," 
said he. "I hope we can succeed in saving him." 

" 'Twill simply kill Mabel if he is convicted," said 
the lady. "I almost hoDe if he is that she will not get 
well." 

"Augusta!" he cried; "have you no mercy?" 

"Yes, brother," she answered, surprised at his tone 
and manner. "Why do you speak to me so ?" 

"Don't you think," he said, remembering himself, 
"to lose one child is trouble enough for those parents ?" 

"More than I want them to have," she replied. "I 
shall write to them my sympathy." 

Trouble enough for the parents ! He was right ; 
but when he cried out as he did 'twas his own sor- 
row he felt, and wdiile he watched the proceedings of 
the case 'tw^as with a heart torn with anxiety, and he 
almost feared to open a letter or receive a telegram. 
For Mabel's sake alone he went to the rescue of her 
brother, but when he knew all then w'ith might and 
main he worked for the young man's life. 

Owing to the excited state of feeling, the trial was 
held in a town some distance from the place of the 
tragedy. Colonel Chester saw only the father and 
son, and he soon learned what the old man's feelings 
were, though when he saw the deep interest mani- 
fested by the lawyer he was extremely courteous, 
while his wrath at the judge's conduct knew no bounds. 

"I'll tell you what kind of a man he is, sir," he 



126 MABEL GORDON 

said, with flashing eyes. "When I was laboring day 
and night to prevent the war, for I saw where it would 
end, he was doing all in his power to hasten the con- 
flict. I said, sir, and I was honest, too, that I would 
free every slave I owned and lie in prison the remainder 
of my life to keep our country from being plunged into 
such dreadful sorrow. I worked as long as a man 
could, but he and his kind triumphed, and then, when 
our cause failed — for when my State left the Union I 
went with it — he turned, like the traitor he is, and to 
curry favor with those in power would put the neck of 
every decent Southerner under the negro's foot. I 
have always been a friend to the negro — my old slaves 
will tell you that — but, sir, I tell you as long as Holy 
Writ endures you cannot put the negro above his mas- 
ter. Infinite wisdom decreed otherwise." 

"I assure you," said Colonel Chester, "that I have 
no desire to put him above his master, and I am dis- 
gusted with that judge. Still, for your son's sake, I 
would counsel you to be careful how you express your- 
self. It will be all we can do to save him." 

"And that means the death of my wife, and the 
end of every earthly hope to me," responded Mr. Gor- 
don. 

Colonel Chester wanted to say, "I, too, would lose 
my all," for he knew Mabel would sink under such 
sorrow coming when her strength was exhausted. 

The judge was amazed to see a man of such pres- 
ence, coming from where he did, evincing such inter- 
est in the case. He knew the Gordons were limited in 
means and could not possibly pay a high-priced law- 
yer from a distance. Something like it was hinted to 
Colonel Chester, and he said : 

"I know we have the name of being so anxious to 
amass wealth that we lose sight of everything else, but 
I am glad to tell you there are Northerners who rise 
above mercenary considerations, and that my profes- 



MABEL GORDON 127 

sion has in it men who lose sight of monetary reward. 
I want to see that boy cleared. Any man in his place 
would have done as he did. I also would have dealt 
in the same manner with a scoundrel who dared to 
insult my wife or sister, or any lady in my care." 

"You are the right sort, mister," said a man near 
him. "Just send a few more like you down here, and 
we won't have to 'regulate' things like we do, but just 
as long as we are subjected to what we are, and the 
negroes encouraged in lawlessness, it's no use talkin', 
we are goin' to help ourselves somehow." 

"It is a terrible state of affairs," said Colonel Ches- 
ter gravely, "and I regret that any part of this coun- 
try should be in such a condition." 

"Well," replied the other, "we can manage it if we 
are let alone. We understand the situation and the 
negro better than those who have never lived here 
possibly can. I don't hate the negroes — why, I feed 
the trifling things when they don't work as they should 
rather than let them suffer, and I'd fight for those that 
are faithful to us !" 

"If Mr. Lincoln had lived we would not be in this 
torn-up condition," put in another. 

"Do you really believe that?" asked the lawyer, 
quickly. 

"Why, yes," responded the man, "I didn't agree 
with him in everything, for I believed then, and think 
3^et, we had a right to secede, but he was a wise man 
and a safe one, and 'twas a bad thing for us when he 
died. We had no hand in that, and didn't approve it, 
and I think it is a little hard that we should be treated 
as though we did." 

"It's a pity," said Colonel Chester, "that the two 
sections couldn't understand each other better. Good 
feeling might thereby be restored." 

"I'm glad you have found us to be other than a set 
of desperadoes," answered the man, "and we to have 



128 MABEL GORDON 

met a genuine Yankee gentleman. The kind we've 
dealt with much of the time haven't impressed us fa- 
vorably. There'll not be much Union as long as they 
hold rule over us, and interfere as they do in matters 
they don't understand. It would be better to win the 
hearts of the people than to have all the most promi- 
nent citizens with ropes about their necks." 

"I agree with you," said the lawyer. "I fought 
to preserve the Union, for I gelieved 'twas right, 
but I do not approve harsh measures with a con- 
quered people, especially people who showed them- 
selves as brave and faithful as these, and I feel as 
thorough contempt for the class you speak of as you 
possibly can." 

"Give me your hand!" exclaimed the other, "and if 
you ever run for an office count on my vote." 

Colonel Chester shook the extended hand cordially 
and the two walked off together into the court room. 

The long suspense was over at last and young Gor- 
don was acquitted, to the great joy of all his friends. 
The old father's Spartan spirit gave way when the 
agony was over, and he wept like a child in his hap- 
piness. 

"Go with us to our home," he said to Colonel Ches- 
ter, "and let this boy's mother and wife thank you for 
all you have done for us. I can't begin to tell you 
what a comfort you have been in our distress." 

But Colonel Chester had to decline, pleading busi- 
ness, and telling him, too, of Mabel's illness, which he 
had not done while the dreadful strain was on the 
father. 

"She is doing well, so they write me," he contin- 
ued, "and unless you insist upon her coming home we 
will keep her longer. My sister depends on her so en- 
tirely she would be lost without her. Suppose you 
and Mrs. Gordon come to see her?" 

"We can't well do that, thank you," returned Mr. 



MABEL GORDON 129 

Gordon. "Nellie's health isn't good, and my wife 
would not leave her. Tell Mabel all about this affair, 
and also tell her she can stay longer with your sister 
if she wishes." 

So bidding them a hearty good-bye, the impatient 
lover started homeward, after what seemed an age to 
him in his anxiety, and thinking what a desolate home 
he would be approaching if the precious life had gone 
out. 



130 MABEL GORDON. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

Mrs. Rowland met him joyously and with the good 
news of Mabel's improvement. 

"The fever is entirely gone," she said, "but she is 
very weak ; a breath would almost blow her away and 
we have to be exceedingly careful not to let anything 
trouble her. I am so glad her brother was acquitted 
and that you helped as you did. The papers said but 
for your efforts he might have been convicted, and 
spoke in glowing terms of your eloquence." 

"Nonsense," he replied; "I didn't come up to some 
of his counsel, though I did work hard, and my heart 
was in it, for you know, sister, that act of vandalism 
hangs heavy on my heart, and I was glad to do some- 
thing by way of reparation." 

"Your looks tell you have worked," said the lady, 
"and you must rest." 

He was willing she should think his labors caused 
his worn appearance, but in truth what wrought the 
change was the worry about Mabel. 

"I must see her," he said to the doctor; "I have 
earned the right, and I'll be so quiet she sha'n't be dis- 
turbed." 

"Not yet," replied the good doctor. "Heartily as I 
sympathize, I can't let you in her room till she is 
stronger. She is conscious now, and would be wor- 
ried." 

"Let me come to the door when she is asleep," he 
begged. "Just let me see her," 

"My! my!" said the doctor; "love is like the measles 



MABEL GORDON 131 

— the later in life one is attacked the harder it goes, 
and you've got a bad case. Well, slip up when the 
nurse goes out, and I'll let you peep at my dear lit- 
tle girl." 

When she was first taken sick Dr. Warren had her 
put in a remote room till the fever was over; then, 
when consciousness returned, they lifted her on a 
strong sheet back to her own dainty apartment, and 
when Colonel Chester stood at the door he felt that it 
was sacrilege for anyone save its owner to enter there. 

Wan, wasted, and white as the coverlet, she lay on 
the bed, scarcely breathing, he thought, and so like 
the dead he caught his breath and looked imploringly 
at his old friend, who smiled and nodded reassuringly, 
then sent him away lest she might waken under the 
intense longing of his look. And he had to be con- 
tent and try to possess himself patiently, till, some time 
after his return, he was told that Mabel wanted to see 
him. 

She was able to sit up in a big chair that almost 
swallowed the slender form. Her negligee robe of 
delicate blue, with its falls of creamy lace, brought out 
the transparent fairness of her skin, and the boyishly 
short hair, tumbling in rebellious curls about her head, 
with eyes deepened and softened by illness, made her 
so perfectly lovely to him that it was with difficulty he 
kept from taking her in his arms and telling her she 
should be his. Instead of that he held her hand ten- 
derly, while he expressed his pleasure at seeing her 
once more, and so near well. 

"We have missed you sadly," he said; "the whole 
house was full of gloom during your illness." 

"Ah, yes," she said, "I have been a great care to 
all, and everyone has been so good to me I can never 
repay them. I fear Mrs. Rowland will be ill in con- 
sequence ; she does so much for me. And you ! What 
can I say to you for all you did ?" 



132 MABEL GORDON 

"I ?" he said. "Why, they wouldn't let me do any- 
thing!" 

"I know what you did," she said, tears filling her 
eyes. "Mother wrote of your kindness to our boy, and 
so to us all. Had he been convicted it would have 
killed her and me, too. You saved three lives then — 
even more, for Nellie could not have stood it. You 
certainly saved mine." 

"My life, Mabel," he said, smiling. "Child, have 
you forgotten I told you my existence was bound up 
in yours? Some time you will understand how dear 
you are to me." 

"You were so kind," she said, "we can never repay 
you." 

"I know of a way," said he, "that will put me in 
debt. It may not be right to ask you now, but, dearest, 
I want your love so much. Will you give it me, 
Mabel?" 

"Don't ask me that," she said. "I cannot." 

"Very well," he said, "I can wait, and as long as 
no one claims you I will hope." 

Then remembering her muttered words when de- 
lirious, he asked : 

"Mabel, who is before me? Have you never loved 
anyone ?" 

The fair face lacked no color then, and she hesi- 
tated for a few moments before replying : 

"Yes, I have been very fond of someone, but that 
was laid aside forever, for there was sin in it, and 
'twas hopeless." 

"Sin," he repeated; "you commit sin? Child, what 
do you mean?" 

"If you please," she said with a quiet dignity that 
silenced him, "we will not discuss that. Let it suf- 
fice you to know that as soon as I knew there was 
wrong in it I put away all thought of him, and not in 



MABEL GORDON 133 

my own strength was it done; I had to implore divine 
assistance. You have no rival in any former lover." 

"Then," he ventured to ask, "what is the reason I 
can't win you?" 

"You will have to believe that my reasons are 
good," she answered, "and very powerful, else how 
could I refuse one who has done for us what you 
have? And father bids me tell you that he hopes 
som.e time to be able to pay " 

"Never speak of payment between us," he com- 
manded, "unless you wish to pain me beyond my 
strength to bear. Are we not constantly his debtors 
because of his daughter here? What would this house 
be without you in it?" 

"You are very kind," she said, "and most gener- 
ous." 

"Can't you add to that sweet praise by saying, 'and 
dear' ?" he asked, smiling. 

"Impossible," she said. 

"Well, I'll wait," he answered, and he did so pa- 
tiently, surrounding her with an atmosphere of tender 
thoughtfulness that caused his sister to hope he had 
at last found someone he could trust and love, but 
when she hinted as much to him he only replied, "that 
a man would have to be made of stone not to feel for 
her after all she'd suffered." 

Mabel's room was a bower of beauty with the flow- 
ers he ordered daily for her. Everything he thought 
could tempt her appetite he quietly provided, and when 
at the physician's order Mrs. Rowland took her to the 
seashore to complete her recovery he went with them 
to see that the dear invalid wanted for nothing. Young 
Fielding hovered near, and it was natural she should 
enjoy the young fellow's attentions, and if he should 
succeed in winning the prize, why, if she was happier, 
he could bury his sweet hopes and take up the burden 
of life alone. When he saw her treating all alike, and 



134 MABEL GORDON 

seemingly equally pleased with the different ones, he 
said to her : 

"Are you, with all your piety, developing into a co- 
quette? If you prove other than I believe you to be, 
Mabel, what am I to think? Do you know, child, you 
had redeemed your sex with me? Because of your 
sincerity I could once more believe in another woman 
beside my sister, and I beg you not to destroy my 
faith. If you can't love me you are not to blame, but 
there is no need to pain me even more or of making 
others suffer." 

"You wrong me," she replied. "I take no pleasure 
in hurting anyone; especially does it grieve me to pain 
you." 

"And you say my case is hopeless?" he said, smil- 
ing down at her. "We shall see about that, little 
girl." 

And so he waited. 

It chanced one day that JMabel was out with -Mr. 
Fielding, the two chatting merrily, not knowing that 
Colonel Chester was walking a little distance behind 
them, when suddenly they heard a wild cry and saw 
people running as for their lives. 

"What is it?" asked the girl, and then the cry 
reached her, "Mad dog!" and a policeman came rush- 
ing after the animal. 

Fielding gave one horrified look and fled, just as 
the dog, escaping the policeman's club, rushed toward 
Mabel, who stood motionless from fright. 

Just as she thought surely death was at hand a tall 
form bounded by and a man caught the brute by the 
collar as he fastened his teeth in her dress, and tore 
him loose. The dog turned and snatched a piece out 
of the man's sleeve before the panting policeman could 
end the struggle. Then Colonel Chester turned to 
Mabel and asked: 

"Are you hurt?" 



'MABEL GORDON 135 

"No," she answered, all a-tremble; "but you are." 

"The brute only tore my sleeve," he said ; "my hands 
were protected by gloves. He didn't touch my flesh. 
You are badly frightened and trembling so you can't 
walk." 

He hailed a passing carriage, and, helpmg her in, 
followed, and, seating himself, drew off his glove. 

"See," he said, "I escaped without a scratch. I 
shudder to think what would have been your fate had 
not someone helped you." 

"And again," said she, "you have saved my life." 

"My life," he said. "Ah, child, for me life would 
be over had you been injured ! Will you never know 
how dear you are to me?" 

Suddenly she bent and kissed his hand. 

"Can't you do more," he asked softly. 

She shook her head, and he said : 

"Well, dear, I can wait. I'm not so old that I can't 
afford a few years in waiting for one whom I love so 
dearly. Why do you guard your heart so carefully 
against me?" 

She made no answer, and he hushed. 

To j\Irs. Rowland he conducted ]\Iabel. saying: 

"Augusta, it is not safe to let this girl get out of 
our sight a moment." 

"What has happened now?" inquired the lady. 

"Why, Miss Gordon was attacked by a mad dog, 
and her gallant admirer fled, leaving her to her fate. 
I chanced to be near enough to rescue her," explained 
Colonel Chester, 

"Mabel, my child!" cried Mrs. Rowland, "what 
shall we do with you?" 

"Send me home, dear friend," replied the girl; "I 
am more trouble than pleasure to you." 

"Have you room for me there?" asked Chester, as 
they w^alked away to their respective apartments to 



136 MABEL GORDON 

make the necessary changes in their dress. "I shall 
certainly follow if you go." 

She didn't want him there ; she never wanted to, see 
him in the humble cottage his cruelty had put them in, 
lest she should hate him. 

Mrs. Rowland declared Mabel should not get out of 
her sight any more, and was loud in her thanks that 
no harm had been done to either of her loved ones. 

Fielding called a few days later to ask how she 
stood the shock, but met such a cool reception he wisely 
concluded to discontinue his attentions, and went away, 
for on all sides he was taunted with his cowardly flight. 

As Mabel seemed to be fully well, Mrs. Rowland 
went back to her home, much to her brother's pleasure. 

Then her old friend Allan came, and as he was a 
part of her old home life, Mabel welcomed him. She 
had heard, too, of his tenderness to his frail wife, and 
so thought better of him. 

"I am so glad you seem happy," she said. 

"I am trying to do my duty," said he, "and that 
brings a degree of peace. In ministering to Lucile I 
feel that I am doing what you would approve. Be- 
sides, you remember you promised to pray for me, and 
that comforted me. I said that I had found peace, but 
the fullness of life is over for me." 

"Say not so," she answered. "Life may hold much 
of joy for you yet, and if it should be that more of 
sorrow than happiness falls to you, remember the life 
beyond, and, dear friend, so live that it may make 
amends for all suffering, whether it comes through 
yourself or someone else." 

"Little snow-maiden," he said, "ah, if you were a 
man's wife, what might he not become ! Mabel, are 
you going to give Chester your love? I think he 
cares a great deal for you, and he is a splendid man — 
the kind I fancy you would like." 



MABEL GORDON 137 

"I do not love him now," she said, "whatever change 
may take place in my feeHngs." 

"Happy man, if you should ever change! One 
might wait long to be rewarded by your love. You 
have developed into a superb woman, little Mab." 

"You say too much," she said, "and make me feel 
all I lack, but I thank you for what you did toward 
helping me to study. But for you I should not have 
worked as hard as I did to finish my education. Do 
you remember?" 

"Can I forget anything connected with that part of 
my youth?" he asked. "Some of the purest, dearest 
memories of my life cluster around those days, and I 
would give what I am worth to call them back." 

"Rather ask for strength to face the years to come, 
than waste time in sighing for years agone," she re- 
plied. 

"You are right," he said ; "and, dear little sister, help 
me to rise above all vain regrets, won't you?" 

"Gladly," she said; "if my friendship can aid you 
in any way you have it." 

As he rose to go and held her hand, he said : 

'"'I feel strengthened and encouraged, little Mab. 
Mother Gordon was doing a good .work for mankind 
when she raised this earnest, true-hearted girl of hers. 
It is a pity there are not more such mothers in the 
world, for we need sorely more sincerely good women. 
If you were other than you are it would surprise me, 
knowing that good mother of yours as I do." 

The tribute to her mother touched Mabel, and the 
tears rose to her eyes as she replied : 

"I thank you, and I realize fully that I owe all I am 
to my mother, though my father must come in for a 
share, for he is a noble man, albeit his feelings are so 
strong." 

"He didn't like me as well as the mother did," 
laughed Allan, "and, you know, we are all more or 



138 MABEL GORDON 

less Pharisaical, and will love those who like us; but 
I certainly respected the old gentleman highly. He 
always looked at me as though he held me responsible 
for all his troubles, and it did make me feel kind o' 
guilty." 

"Poor father," she sighed, and she thought of what 
she had suffered because of Allan, and that if he had 
known of it the young man might well have felt 
guilty, for with the feelings Mr. Gordon held nothing 
could have stayed his wrath. 

Harvey saw the cloud on her face and hastened to 
dispel it. 

"Forgive me," he said, "for mentioning aught un- 
pleasant to you. Look at me as you did before and tell 
me 'good-bye' with a smile." 

"Good-bye," she said, "and may heaven's choicest 
blessings go with you, and strength for every trial be 
yours." 

"And may I say, or will it sound like mockery from 
me? God bless you, sweetest friend, and keep you 
from all sorrow." 

"If you ever ask any blessing for me," she said, "let 
it be a prayer for strength that I may be able to bear 
any sorrow that may come." 

"To look at you now," he said, "one would not 
suppose trouble could reach you or that you ever knew 
aught of sorrow." 

"Every heart knoweth Its own bitterness," she 
said, "and mine is no exception." 

His face reddened and he gave her an imploring 
look. 

"There is no bitterness in mine now," she said gen- 
tly; "I am at peace." 

Another lingering "good-bye," and he left, but she 
was terribly homesick for some time, though she 
bravely kept it from her friends. 

Colonel Chester knew nothing of his visit, and she 
did not mention it to him. 



MABEL GORDON 139 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



« 



'Augusta," said Colonel Chester to his sister one 
day, "the physician in charge at the asylum tells me he 
thinks we might take Lonis home — that he is suffi- 
ciently recovered to keep him in perfect safety. Shall 
I bring him here?" 

"By all means, if you think him safe. It may aid in 
regaining his health. Mabel, you have no fear of our 
poor boy, have you?" asked Mrs. Rowland. 

"Certainly not, if you and Colonel Chester think 
liim safe," answered the girl. 

"Then it is settled, and I will bring him soon," the 
gentleman said, and to Mabel, when alone, he contin- 
ued, "If you can't care for me, perhaps you will for 
Louis." 

"Hardly," she said. 

"Can't you tell me yet what I am longing to hear ?" 
he asked. 

"No, sir," she said, "and I wish you would not make 
me say it so often, for I hate to hurt you." 

"Very well, I'll hush now, but whenever you feel 
that you can tell me, will you come to me and say, 'Ru- 
dolf, it has come at last, and I am yours. I love you !' 
Will you tell me so when it does come, Mabel?" 

"You speak assuredly," she said. "How do you 
know I will ever feel that?" 

"I know it because it will be impossible for a woman 
to hold out against such love as I give you. It must 
overcome every obstacle between us, real or imagin- 
ary." 



140 MABEL GORDON 

"What if you change before I am ready to say what 
you declare I will ?" 

"There is no possibility of that," he said. "I will 
be awaiting you if years elapse before you can say 
what I long to hear." 

"I wish it was so I could love you," she said; "but 
I cannot." 

"Never mind," he s^id, smiling tenderly; "you will 
some day. I can wait, and the joy of that time will 
compensate for all." 

He turned off then, and she watched him walk away 
— a man any woman might be proud to win. Numbers 
of fair women would gladly listen to his suit, and yet 
she had to refuse him. If it were not for the way he 
treated his Creator's claims upon him, and that ter- 
rible recollection of her childhood, she would be com- 
pelled to yield to him. 

When the afflicted brother came, Colonel Chester's 
affectionate kindness to him called forth her warm ad- 
miration. Louis seemed fully restored, and was a 
pleasant addition to the home circle. Mabel could 
charm him at all times. Her songs soothed him and 
he would have her play for hours. She had never 
pla3^ed for his brother. Once he came in while she 
was at the piano, not long after she refused to ride 
with him, and as she stopped, he said : 

"Go on; I like music." 

"I can't play for you." she returned. 

"Do you mean you will not because it is I who ask ?" 

"Yes, sir," she replied. 

"Miss Gordon," said he, "are you trying to see how 
rude you can be?" 

"No, sir," she said, "but I could do nothing with 
this instrument while you listened." 

"Then I shall never ask 3^ou again, if I can remem- 
ber," said he, and he kept his word; but sometimes 
when she entertained Louis he would quietly enter 



MABEL GORDON 141 

and sit silently there, though she never seemed to see 
him. 

Louis had been home some time, and they were re- 
joicing at his recovered health, while Mrs. Rowland 
was so happy with her boys, as she called the two stal- 
wart men, and Mabel seemed like a dear young sister 
to both. 

One afternoon as she was in the parlor arranging 
some drapery Mrs. Rowland wished her to, Louis en- 
tered, closing the door cautiously after him. INIabel 
smiled at him and went on with her work, but there 
was no smile on his face as he went close to her. He 
looked worried, and his eyes flashed as he said to her : 

"I have come to tell you that they are determined 
to separate us, and, Eleanor, how can I bear life with- 
out you?" 

She understood at once that his madness had re- 
turned, and the only way open to her was to humor 
him, so she said : 

"I think you know me well enough to believe that I 
will be true. Calm yourself." 

"I cannot," he said, "when I see all my hopes 
blasted, for you will marry this man and I be left 
wretched. Eleanor, I will not bear life without you. 
You are mine alone — my all, and to me you shall be- 
long. If we may not live together, dear, we can at 
least die." 

"No," she said, "let us live, and perhaps fate will 
be kind. We may yet be happy." 

"No;" he said, "they are determined to take you 
from me, and I am prepared for death. I have a vial 
of strong poison here, which we w^ill drink, go to 
sleep, and never know what trouble is again. You 
say you love me, Eleanor, and now prove your love. 
Die with me, sweetheart, and death will be sweet in- 
deed." 



U3 MABEL GORDON 

"Nay, beloved," she said, "let us hope for a brighter 
future; do not die!" 

"You are false!" he cried. "You do not love me! 
You want to marry that old, rich lover. His money 
has bought you, and now you shall die !" 

He stood between her and the door, but she es- 
sayed flight. The madman was too quick for her, and 
as she sprang by him he flung his arm around her 
and with his other hand tried to put the poison to her 
lips. Closing her mouth tightly, she struggled to gain 
possession of the vial, and while the terrible ordeal 
was passing she heard steps in the hall, and one wild 
cry for help burst from her. Instantly the door flew 
open and Colonel Chester strode into the room, and, 
seeing Mabel in his brother's arms, he rushed forward, 
catching the hand holding the poison. 

"Madman!" he cried, "you are trying to kill the 
woman I love. She is not yours." 

"Ah, ha! That is it! That is the reason she won't 
die with me ! Then you shall die, wretch that you are, 
to steal her from me!" shrieked Louis. 

He released Mabel, who sank to the floor exliausted 
and half dead with fright, then sprang upon his 
brother. Muscular training now stood Rudolf in good 
place, for Louis' rage made him stronger. The two 
men struggled as for life, while Mabel lay near in the 
first swoon of her existence. The madman saw her 
lying as if dead. 

"You've killed her!" he screamed, "Oh, Eleanor, 
my love, I will avenge your death. I will have his 
life for this!" 

He strained every muscle to get Colonel Chester in 
his power, but the latter adroitly tripped him up, and 
before he could rise was kneeling upon him and shout- 
ing for help. It came in the person of John. 

"Bring me a strong rope," commanded his master, 



MABEL GORDON 143 

"and get the carriage ready. I must take my brother 
to the asylum." 

Louis was still panting from his exertions, and he 
glared at liim. 

"Yes," he said, "take me there so that you can win 
her; but she shall yet be mine." 

\\lien the frightened ser,vant brought the rope he 
bound him fast, Louis shrieking: 

"Do you hear me ? She is mine ! mine ! mine ! and I 
wall avenge her death ! O Eleanor, w^ake up ! Speak 
to me before they take me aw^ay ! My love ! my life !" 
and he almost broke his bonds in his mad efforts to 
reach the girl. 

As Colonel Chester's presence only increased his 
rage, the former bade John watch the poor madman 
till he returned, and then, stooping, he raised Mabel 
in his arms and bore her to another room, and, laying 
her gently on a couch, bathed her face till conscious- 
ness returned to her. When she opened her eyes and 
saw his anxious face, for a little while she seemed 
dazed; then the dreadful ordeal through wdiich she 
had passed flashed through her mind and she shud- 
dered as she said : 

"Oh, it w^as horrible! Thank God, you came when 
you did, for you saved my life." 

"You forget," he said, smiling, "it is my life I 
saved. Ah, Mabel, if Louis had killed you •! should 
not have lived long. Stay here till your fright is over, 
and try not to think of the terrible scene. I shall have 
to go to the asylum with my poor brother." 

"Are you hurt at all ?" she asked. 

"No," said he ; "but I fear the strain wall injure you, 
and I can't bear to think of your being hurt by Louis. 
I can never tell how^ I felt when you wTre struggling 
in his arms. I should grieve to hurt him, but I w^ould 
strike him dead to save you. This w^orld holds no 
charm for me without you. But forgive me, dear, I 



144 MABEL GORDON 

do not mean to worry you, though such love as I feel 
will burst its bounds sometimes, and you are doubly 
dear since I came so near losing you. Rest now, and 
I will hasten back. Shall I send Augusta to you?" 

"Airs. Rowland is not at home," she said. "She 
h.as gone to see an old friend, and will not be home till 
late. She left me to preside at dinner and to amuse 
Mr. Chester." 

"My poor brother! He will not dine with us to- 
day." Then, bending over her, he dropped a kiss on 
her brow, and before she could recover from her sur- 
prise at his act he was gone. She heard Louis' oaths 
and threats of vengeance as they took him to the car- 
riage, and the thought of her narrow escape from death 
overcame her. Woman's refuge, tears, gave her re- 
lief, and falling on her knees she rendered heartfelt 
thanks for her merciful deliverance, and prayed, too, 
for the noble man who had thrice saved her life. 
When she became composed and w^as quietly thinking, 
as she lay upon the couch, Colonel Chester came in, 
and, drawing a chair close to the lounge, took her 
hand in his, gravely feeling her pulse. 

"Well, doctor," she said, smiling, "are you satis- 
fied with my condition ?" 

"You are not as nervous as I feared," he said, "but 
you have had a severe shock, and I am uneasy about 
you." 

"How^ did your brother act when he was taken back 
to his sad life?" she asked. 

"He won't say a word. Do you know whether or 
not he was sick before his attack?" 

"He complained of his head, and said he would take 
a ride and try fresh air. When he returned he sought 
me, thought I was Eleanor, and that they w^ere try- 
ing to separate us, and before he would lose his love 
in life he would rather both should die. I am so 
grieved over his relapse!" 



MABEL GORDON 145 

"Poor fellow ! I fear his life will end in gloom. How 
can that woman rest when she knows she helped to 
ruin such a fiiie man as Louis naturally is?" 

"I don't suppose she does rest much," replied Mabel. 
"I could not in her place." 

"And yet you have no mercy on me !" 

"Oh, indeed, I should grieve myself to death if I 
were to cause such trouble," said Mabel. 

"Suppose I become the wreck that Louis is?" he 
suggested, 

A quick shudder went over her, as she answered: 

"You could not." 

"Would you care ?" he asked. 

"Certainly I would," she said; "I am not heart- 
less." 

"Well, your heart, if you have one, is pretty well 
hid from me," he retorted. 

To change the subject, she asked : 

"What will your sister say when she learns that 
Mr. Chester has had to go back to his confinement?" 

"She will be deeply grieved. Her boys are very 
dear to her, if other wojnen do find them unlovable. 
And it will trouble her to know that Louis was vio- 
lent toward you. Oh, Mabel,, if I had not chanced to 
return home sooner than usual my heart would have 
been broken." 

"You did not chance," she said; "God sent you 
then." 

He said nothing to that, and after a little remarked : 

"If Augusta intends dining out, you and I will 
have a tete-d-tete dinner, or shall I send yours to you 
here?" 

"I am able to go to mine, thank you," she said, "and 
it is time now. I shall have to make a change in my 
dress first," and she rose to leave the room, but he 
stopped her. 

"You will come just as you are. You are not strong 



146 MABEL GORDON 

now, and besides no one will see your toilette save my- 
self, and to me you are lovely at all times. Take my 
arm and let us go to the dining room." 

"I am no invalid," she said. "I do not need sup- 
port." 

"My arm is your rightful stay, if you only could 
believe it, and I shall take you to your dinner thus. 
Submit to the stronger will, little girl, for you will 
have to do it yet, and might as well begin now." 

"We will see," she said, saucily. 

"So we shall," he answered, laughing. 

She looked at him, suddenly very grave. 

"Colonel Chester," she said, "I believe you think I 
am acting as I do just to be perverse, when, really, 
there is a deep-seated principle involved, besides other 
reasons equally powerful." 

"Tell me all your reasons, and perhaps I can con- 
vince you of your errors," said he. 

"In the first place," she said, "I could not promise 
love and obedience to one who refuses to acknowledge 
his Creator's claim. That is one barrier between us, 
but I do not tell you that even if you were a Chris- 
tian I would say *Yes.' " 

She spoke so firmly he looked surprised. 

"Is it fair to keep me in ignorance?" he asked. "I 
might be able to overcome the other objections if they 
were known." 

"Impossible!" she replied. 

"Well, dear, I can wait," he said gently, "and one 
of your tenderness cannot always withstand such de- 
votion. Love begets love, you know, and you say you 
are sorry for me, and pity is the twin sister of love." 

"Would you want only pity? A proud man like 
yourself would be satisfied with nothing less than a 
woman's deepest love." 

"And some day, my little rebel, you will give me all 
the girl within your bosom and your woman's soul, 



MABEL GORDON 147 

and till you do give me that I can live on the sweet 
hope," he replied, smiling fondly. 

"Always remembering I do not bid you hope," she 
answered. 

"I have led a forlorn hope before," he said. 

"Yes, in battle, but this is different." 

She wanted to say, "And then you could order a 
defenceless man's home destroyed," but she refrained, 
and he rejoined, all unconscious of her thoughts : 

"It is very different, and I think I would rather try 
to take the enemy's guns than a girl's heart when she 
seems to have determined upon no surrender. But, 
Miss Gordon, victory has perched on my banner, and 
in this struggle of ours, I will conquer yet. North 
against South again, you know, and you might as 
well come into the Union now. You all fight well 
anywhere, and die game, but little girl, you are fight- 
ing against odds ; I have determined to succeed." 

"And suppose I say I am resolved you shall not?" 
she asked. 

"'Twill be in vain, and it is to be hoped you can 
yield gracefully," he retorted. 

"I am tired of this," she said. "You and I can never 
agree. Please let us talk on something pleasanter." 

"As you please," said he, "and if you can find a 
pleasanter subject to me I'll be under obligations." 

"I can," she replied demurely: "does your coffee 
suit you?" 

He laughed at her question. 

"And so you think what a man eats and drinks is 
the most important of all things to him?" 

"It was not until I prepared a dinner for you that 
you thought me worth noticing," she replied. 

"How could I notice you when you steadily per- 
sisted in avoiding me? I believe you started out with 
the determination of hating me," replied he. 

"I hate no one," she said, quietly. 



148 MABEL GORDON 

"Sometimes hate is preferable to indifference," he 
answered. 

"So it is," she said, "but you are getting' back to the 
old theme." 

"True," he said. "Well, I will stop. Now we will 
adjourn to the library, and I will devote this evening 
to you, if you will let me smoke in your presence." 

"I wonder that you ever want anything more to 
make you happy while you have your precious cigars," 
she said. 

"When I get you I'll give them up, and if you want 
the habit stopped you will soon give me the answer I 
crave," he said, smiling. 

"I don't say you will ever get that," she replied. 

"But you will some day," he said. 

"Nothing earthly is sure," she replied. 

"And of all uncertain things women are the most," 
he retorted. 

When Mrs. Rowland returned and heard from her 
brother of Mabel's escape and Louis' relapse she was 
shocked and grieved. 

"My poor boy," she mourned. "Is there no mercy 
for him? Oh, I have asked Heaven to bless him, and 
give him back to us, and my heart sang for joy when 
he seemed restored, and now all is dark again." 

"Do not lose faith, dear lady," comforted Mabel. 
"God will hear your prayers." 

"And you, my dear adopted child, came near losing 
your life through poor Louis. How can I be thank- 
ful enough that you escaped ! How could I have faced 
those parents if you had died! Rudolf will have to 
keep constant watch over you as he suggested, or I 
will never let you leave my sight. You were badly 
frightened, I know, and something must be done for 
you. What do you want me to do?" 

"It has been some time since we came back, and if 



MABEL GORDON 149 

you please, I would like to go to see my parents," re- 
plied Mabel. 

"You shall do so and I will run down with you. I 
enjoyed my visit there so much before, another will 
be even pleasanter. So write as soon as you please 
and say we are coming. Rudolf, you can spare us a 
while?" 

"If I am to be consulted," he replied, "I will say 
that you can't be spared; but I know Miss Gordon 
gets homesick, and now that she has been so severely 
tried it may be best to take her away. She has been 
very bright since she recovered from her faint, and 
as she claims to be so strong as to need no support, 
she may not feel her fright as much as we fear. Stiil, 
if she wants to go home, by all means take her." 

He feigned indifference, and his sister had no idea 
how the thought of giving up Mabel disturbed him. 
To her, when alone he said : 

"I am afraid you will never come back. I beg you 
not to treat me that way, for this house without you 
would be unendurable. I am afraid you will find some 
gallant youth down South, to whom this seemingly in- 
vulnerable heart of yours will go out, and then life 
is over for me." 

"I thought you were certain of winning me," she re- 
plied. 

"If you'll stay here, where I can prove my devo- 
tion," said he, "I will win you; but when there is no 
one to plead my cause, I fear defeat. Will you tell 
me how that other man won your heart, and was able 
to gain such a treasure?" 

"I'd rather not talk about that," she said. "He has 
long since passed out of my life." 

"Do you think, if all obstacles were removed, he 
would woo in vain?" 

"I don't think of such an impossibility at all," she 
replied. "He is as surely gone from me as though 



150 MABEL GORDON 

he were dead ; and it is only as a dear friend that I let 
myself think of him. Now, please, don't question me 
any more. Can't you trust me?" 

"Implicitly," he said. "Some time you will open 
your heart to me and tell me all I long to know. Till 
then I can wait, sustained by the sweet hope." 

"Colonel Chester," she said earnestly, "please don't 
look forward to that with so much certainty, for I 
must change entirely to ever feel as you say I will." 

"And," said he, "as people are constantly changing 
there is hope for me." 

"So there is also a likelihood of a change taking 
place in you," she replied. "You've heard, I suppose, of 
the lady who reconsidered her answer to a rejected 
suitor and told him she had changed her mind, and 
he said he had, too. 'Twould be terribly mortifying 
to have you say that to me in case I ever go to you 
with the answer you believe I will." 

"Try me, please." he said, "and I'll prove how con- 
stant I can be. How do you suppose Mammy will 
like me as a member of the family? I'm going to see 
you if you stay away long. I want to see your home." 

"It is very unpretentious," she said, "but a pretty 
place to me. Roses and honeysuckles and Cape jas- 
mines, and lots of dear old-fashioned flowers make 
it sweet and gay, and the immense oaks give delightful 
shade. I love every tree and flower there. Our ow^n 
beautiful house was burned during the war, and father 
has never been able to rebuild it, so you'll find us liv- 
ing in a style very unlike yours ; but you will also 
meet fine courtesy and hospitality, for my parents are 
true gentlefolks." 

"I see what the daughter is," said he. "and know 
that the parents are all they should be." He spoke 
readily, and his voice was even and pleasant, but "his 
face had changed when she spoke of her ruined home, 



MABEL GORDON 151 

and as she made no reply to his gallant speech he con- 
tinued : 

"You say your home was burned? Do you know 
how it occurred?" 

'"Twas ordered done by a man in command of a com- 
pany of soldiers," she answered, very quietly. "I was 
s'ery small, you know. Mammy has often told me about 
it, and I remember how angry she was, and that father 
seemed like one distraught. Poor mother was so hurt 
she couldn't say anything. Our silver was taken by 
some of the men ; the pretty china and glassware 
broken into bits, the piano split into tiny pieces, and 
the other furniture injured before the torch was ap- 
plied. Oh, it was terrible! You can never imagine 
how horrible it was to us. None of us grieve for 
the loss of our slaves, and I am glad they are free, 
for I believe slavery is wrong; but it is hard to keep 
down feelings of resentment when we think of the 
wanton destruction of our dear home." 

Her listener tingled with shame as he heard the sim- 
ply told tale of their wrongs, and remembered it was 
by his order it was done. He had made homeless this 
fair girl, to whom he would now gladly give his all. 
Little then did he think he would ever sue for the love 
of the trembling child, and feel that unless he could 
gain her heart the whole world was a void. What if 
she could know he had done that shameful act. With 
her strong feelings would she not spurn him as he 
felt he deserved to be? He rose and paced the floor. 

"Are you angry with me for telling you?" she asked 
gently. 

"Angry with you, Mabel ? No. dear child, you 
could not anger me. I am disturbed about what you 
have said. 

"I do not blame you of the North for wanting 
slavery abolished," she went on, "and I wish you would 
go further, and emancipate the slaves among you, for 



152 MABEL GORDON 

you know they exist, and this kind is as great a blot 
upon those who have them in their power as was that 
of the South, but there is a dijETerence in favor of my 
people, for there was a bond of affection between mas- 
ter and slave with us, and show me if you can, any 
such tie here. Money governs and flesh and blood 
suffer. Body and soul are lost in this slavery, yet it 
goes on. You fought us. Colonel Chester, to help 
abolish the bondage of the colored race, for which we 
were not responsible in the beginning, and here at 
your very door is a greater work you might engage 
in, and not have to resort to violence." 

"You are a foeman worthy of my steel, little girl," 
he replied, "and as you are not in the state of mind 
that I am, you have the advantage. Of course I will 
agree to anything you say now." 

"I do not want you to agree to what I say if you 
don't believe it," she responded. 

"Miss Gordon," he said suddenly, "is it because I 
belong to the side arrayed against your people that 
you refuse to listen to my love?" 

"No," she replied, "for I do not blame you for 
fighting for the Union any more than I do my dear 
brothers for defending our rights. There were brave 
men on both sides, and as an American I am proud of 
both, and I cannot blame you for doing your duty as 
you believed it to be. If you ever wantonly destroyed 
a home I think you should feel very sorry for that." 

He didn't know what to say. and was very glad that 
his sister just then called for Mabel. Was ever a man 
in a worse plight? He had never believed any woman 
could touch his heart, and now if he could only win 
this girl, to whom he bowed in deepest devotion, he 
knew the earth could hold no happier man. He had 
all along spoken very assuredly to her of his success 
in winning her love, but she had not then told him of 
her sad recollections. If she should find out the part 



MABEL GORDON 153 

he played and loathe him, why he would only go 
mad, as poor Louis had done, or end his life. Yes, 
he would die, for what was there after death? 
"Nothing," he said, so he would end all his trouble 
at once if she ever scorned him. No act of his life had 
been more regretted than that done in the heat of 
passion, and now the thought was bitter indeed. How 
little do we think of the consequence of an act or word ! 
Years of sorrow may follow the hasty deed, and an 
unconscious Nepiesis arise from an unlooked-for 
source. The frightened child, trembling in her 
mother's arms, then unnoticed by the invading foe, 
had become a queenly woman, holding in her power 
his happiness for life. He was pleading for mercy 
from her, and when he might have shown it there was 
none for her and her dear ones. He groaned aloud in 
his anguish, as he stood looking out into the street 
below. No one, seeing the elegant man standing be- 
hind the crystal, clear glass of the window, would have 
supposed that he was enduring bitter sorrow. He 
looked around the room, and noted its appearance. 
Handsome paintings adorned the walls, and rare statu- 
ary added to the beauty of his surroundings. His 
home held every comfort wealth could give, and yet 
his heart was hungering for the love of the simple 
maiden, who was filled with joy at the thought of 
soon reaching that humble cottage, and she preferred 
that to being mistress of all he could offer. What could 
be the cause of her repeated refusals? Other women, 
professing to be Christians, had married men like him- 
self and seemed happy. He would not interfere with 
her religious belief, and she should trust him that 
much. If she left, feeling as she did, and should 
tell her parents of his infidelity, she would never re- 
turn. He strode out of the room, nearly running over 
Mabel, who was passing along the hall . 



154 MABEL GORDON 

"Why, Colonel Chester!" she exclaimed. "Where 
are you going in such haste?" 

He looked at her almost savagely as he reached for 
his hat. 

"I am going to get away from you if I can," he re- 
plied. 

Her face crimsoned, and she drew herself up 
proudly, as she said : 

"You need not leave your house, sir, to do that," 
and swept by him, nor heeded his call to her to let him 
explain. 

"I've done it now," he said, gloomily, as he walked 
away. "She will never hear me any more." 



MABEL GORDON 155 



CHAPTER XIX. 

No SIGHT of Mabel gladdened his eyes after that. 
Preparations went on for her departure, and he knew 
if she left with that rude speech ringing in her mem- 
ory he might as well give up all hope. 

Mrs. Rowland saw he was worried and asked the 
cause. 

"I acted like a brute to Miss Gordon," he said, "and 
I would like to apologize to her. Will you please 
persuade her to let me see her in the parlor this even- 
ing?" 

"I will tell her, but I doubt her seeing you, for 
she was very indignant over something that occurred. 
She didn't say much, but I never saw such a look on 
her face before, and if you were the offender you will 
need all your eloquence now," replied his sister. 

He tore a leaf from his note book and wrote a few 
lines. 

"Give her this," he said, folding it, "and try to in- 
duce her to see me. I must get things righted be- 
tween us before she leaves." 

Mrs. Rowland looked surprised. 

"Rudolf," she said, "does this child hold it in her 
power to affect your happiness in any way?" 

He was tempted to say, "She holds my every hope," 
and well for him had he done so, but he answered : 

"Oh, I don't want her to remember me as being rude 
to her just as she leaves. She has made it very pleas- 
ant for us here, and I want her to leave with kind 
recollections." 

"Do you know, brother," continued the lady, "that 
I have thought you fancied Mabel more than anyone 



156 MABEL GORDON 

else? And I hoped she might love you, for she is so 
true and pure she would make you the kind of wife 
you need, and you have enough of worldly goods to 
marry a portionless girl, especially when she is a for- 
tune in herself." 

"Nonsense, Augusta," he said. "I am surprised at 
you for thinking of such a thing in connection with 
me." 

If Mabel had given him any hope he would have 
expressed himself differently, but that last talk showed 
upon what a slender thread he hung, and he hated to 
let even his sister know how he felt. 

"Please tell her to come down soon," he said, "for 
I am going to see Louis, or rather the superintendent 
about him. You will want to go to see the poor boy, 
too, and when you go home with Miss Gordon don't 
prolong your stay too long; for his sake you will 
have to hurry back. I am going to the parlor now." 

He hadn't been there long when Mabel entered the 
room. He handed her a chair as she paused near him, 
but she declined it, saying : 

"I have only a few moments to stay," 

"A few moments to give me when you are going 
to leave so soon? I must have offended beyond par- 
don. Mabel, I beg you to let me apologize to you. 
I was mad with pain then, and hardly knew what I 
was doing. Won't you be kind to me, and let it pass ? 
This will be our last talk alone, and the thought of 
losing you, even for a short time, ruins me. Be 
merciful to me, and as you hope for mercy, show it to 
me now." 

He knelt beside her and clasped her hand in both 
his, as she sank into a chair. She was sitting where 
she fell the day Colonel Chester rescued her from the 
maniac's grasp, and the ^emembrance of that, and of 
the other times he stood between her and death came 
over her^ and her face softened. 



MABEL GORDON 157 

"Rise, Colonel Chester," she said. "Do not kneel to 
me. I forgive you freely." 

"Thank you!" he exclaimed. "And now please go 
further and tell me that I may hope to win your love." 

"I cannot," she said. "I beg you not to ask that 
again." 

"Mabel," he said, "I want to assure you of my truth, 
and if the time ever comes when you can love me don't 
hestitate to tell me, for if from fear of troubling you I 
am silent, believe me, I shall await you longingly." 

"And you may never hear what you desire," she an- 
swered sadly. 

He sighed as he took a seat, and rested his head on 
his hand. 

She was sorry for him, and it seemed so heartless 
to leave him there looking so sorrowful that she moved 
quietly to the piano, and softly touching the keys tried 
to tell him through her beloved music how she felt. 
She had never played for him till then, and he listened 
as he had not done before. After she had played a 
long symphony she thought would soothe him, she said : 

"I am going to sing one of the songs we loved at 
home, but I fear you may not like it, and may laugh 
at our taste." 

"Can you believe that of me?" he asked. "I shall 
enjoy it if you do, and there will be no laughing, as 
my heart is too sad for that. Let me hear your song." 

Striking a few chords, she began : "When Shall We 
Meet again," and sung the old piece through, for every 
word in it was dear to her, associated as it was with 
her home and childhood. When she had finished he 
said nothing and she spoke : 

"I am afraid my song bored you and I beg pardon. 
I don't know why I wanted to sing that to you." 

"And why not to me?" he asked. 

"Well, you don't believe as I do; it must have sound- 
ed silly to you," she answered. 



158 MABEL GORDON 

"Mabel," he said, "please don't tell your parents 
of my infidelity, for I want to stand well with them." 

"I shall tell them," she answered, "of your kindness 
and bravery — of how you saved my life." 

"Mine," he said. "Ah! little girl, will you never 
understand how dear you are to me?" 

"Please hush," she begged. "I must leave you 
now, and don't say anything of that again." 

"I will bid you good-night, then, and to-morrow 
we say good-bye. When will I hold this dear hand 
again as I hold it now? Mabel, sweetheart, promise 
me if you will not be mine, you will at least give no 
other man this hand. It is selfish in me to ask such a 
pledge, but I can't help it." 

"I can easily promise that," she said. 

"Thank you." He put his hand under her chin and 
lifted her face, looking at her as though he would 
stamp the dear lineaments on his mind forever. 

"Will you think of me, dear?" he asked. 

"Certainly," she said, "and more — I will pray for 
you." 

"When you left to go to your home before," he 
said, "I loved you and hated to see you go, but it did 
not hurt me then as now. Does it mean that we are 
parting forever ? Oh, Mabel, I must hope to have you 
near me, otherwise life will be nothing to me." 

"Good-night," she said, "and believe me that I wish 
for you a good night indeed." 

He smiled. 

"Ah ! you w'ant to get away. Well, I will let you 
go. Good-night, beloved." 

He pressed a kiss on the hand he held, then opened 
the door for her to pass out. 

"Did you and Rudolf come to amicable terms?" 
asked Mrs. Rowland of her when she appeared in that 
lady's room. 

"Indeed we did," replied the girl. "How could I 



MABEL GORDON 159 

cherish unkind feelings toward one to whom I owe so 
much?" 

"Rudolf is a noble man, and those who know him 
best can appreciate him. Get off to rest, Mabel, for a 
tiresome journey is before us." 

"Mrs. Rowland," said the girl, "would it make much 
difference to you if I conclude to remain at home?" 

"It would make all the difference," the lady an- 
swered, "for I need you more now than when you 
first came to me. What has caused this sudden 
change ?" 

"I thought my parents might need me, and that 
you could easily fill my place." 

"Well, I cannot, so dismiss all thought of it, if you 
please, and go prepared to return with me. I believed 
you were happy here and that you loved me." 

"And so I do, dear lady; you have been so kind to 
me. Please never think I want to leave you," assured 
Mabel. 

"Then you are to come back. Go to sleep and forget 
your nonsense, and don't disturb me with it again. 
You quite upset me then, Mabel." 

"Forgive me, please," said the girl, smiling. 

"Of course I will. Go to sleep, and sweet dreams 
to you," answered the lady. 

Mabel smiled and kissed her friend. 

"You are so good to me," she said, and the tears 
v/elled up so she could say no more. 

Mrs. Rowland was settling herself for the night 
and did not notice her face just then, to Mabel's re- 
lief. Her heart was very heavy, for it gave her real 
pain to inflict suffering upon anyone, and especially 
upon one entitled, as Colonel Chester was, to her es- 
teem. But she was determined, once she reached 
home, not to return to the same house that held her 
lover. 

Mrs. Rowland had to go to see Louis before she 



160 MABEL GORDON 

Started on her journey, and her brother accompanied 
her. He was very quiet, and when his sister expressed 
a fear that he was ill, replied that a headache had pre- 
vented his sleeping soundly, but he would soon be well 
again. He went with them to the station, and during 
the ride Mrs. Rowland said : 

"Rudolf, Mabel astonished me last night by asking 
if I could let her remain at home. What do you think 
of that?" 

He turned to the girl and said : 

"You surely can't think seriously of treating us so 
badly. My sister will need you, Miss Gordon, and, old 
bachelor that I am, I will miss you very much. Pray 
dismiss all such thought and return when Augusta 
does, which I hope will be soon. Louis seems to be 
doing very well and may not need her soon, but she 
has another brother, you know, and, unlovable as he 
may be to all others, she seems to find something in 
him to love. My health does not give her any solici- 
tude, but ever since our mother died she has fussed 
over us and seemed to think we never would get old 
enough to do without her care, and I confess it is 
nice to have her look after me." 

Mrs. Rowland smiled tenderly as she responded : 

"I have enjoyed caring for you, brother, for, even 
with your general dislike of my sex, you have always 
given me the love and respect you should. I wish you 
would open your heart to some good woman, and let 
me see ^'■ou happily married. It grieves me to think of 
your life being passed as it is, and old age to find you 
without the ties a man needs then." 

Mabel felt his eyes upon her and would not look 
in his direction. 

"She is wishing a hard fate for some woman, is she 
not, Miss Gordon ?" he asked. 

Thus addressed, Mabel had to look at him. 

"I cannot tell," she said. "You seem very kind to 



MABEL GORDON 161 

your sister, and it is said that is a good sign. Willie 
is a good husband, so Nellie says, and he sometimes 
treated me indifferently, but in the main I suppose he 
was kind." 

"When are you going to find out what sort of a hus- 
band some other lady's brother makes?" he asked. 

She flushed to the roots of her hair, and there wtis 
a gleam of teeth under his moustache, as he saw her 
blush. 

"Really," she replied, "I have no idea. When I 
meet the man able to call out my love, and whom I can 
trust — who loves me with all his heart and honors his 
Creator as he should — then I will give myself to 
him." 

It was his turn to color, and he did, for he under- 
stood her reply. 

"May you meet your ideal," he said, bowing. 

"Thank you," she answered, briefly. 

"Come, children," interposed Mrs. Rowland, "don't 
have a quarrel just as you are parting. Rudolf, be 
pleasant to the child and let her feel that she wants to 
return with me. I can't understand why you take such 
delight in teasing Mabel." 

"Perhaps if she will come back," he said, "she may 
succeed in making something of me other than the 
heathen I am. Am I a hopeless case. Miss Gordon?" 

"No, sir," she said. "Your case would be hopeless, 
though, if God were not so kind ; but he is long-suf- 
fering, and I believe some day you will acknowledge 
Him." 

"Do you believe that?" he asked, quickly. 

She knew what he meant, and she did not care to 
answer him in a way that he could gain any hope 
from her, so she said: 

"Yes, I believe it ; but we will have to stop this now. 
You and I never agree, you know, and I don't want to 



163 MABEL GORDON 

argue with you at the last moment. It is time to say 
good-bye." 

As he helped them from the carriage Mrs. Rowland 
met a friend who took off her attention, and together 
ihey walked into the waiting-room, leaving Colonel 
Chester with Mabel, to his joy. 

"I implore you to come back," he said, speaking rap- 
idly. "You must know that you are all the world to 
me. Oh, Mabel, my love, I will be so tender and true 
you will have to say 'yes' to me. Is there no hope yet ?" 

"None," she whispered. 

"I will wait," he said, "and be so true. Remember 
when love comes you are to tell me. I will never ask 
you again, but, oh, how I will long to hear the sweet 
admission. You will come to me then." 

Others were near, and he had to hush and be simply 
her escort, but as he saw to the comfort of both ladies 
Mabel knew his heart was heavy, and it hurt her. He 
bade his sister an affectionate farewell, then he turned 
to the girl, and onlookers saw nothing save a quiet 
leavetaking as he said : 

"Good-bye, Miss Gordon. I wish you a pleasant 
trip;" but she read the regret in his eyes, and her 
hand ached from the pressure of his strong clasp long 
after she saw him standing among some friends, as 
the train moved off, while the thought of him alone in 
his home somewhat marred her joy in going to her 
dear ones. 

He was so lonely. The great house seemed op- 
pressive in its quietude. Everything reminded him of 
Mabel. Did he pass her room door he thought of the 
time he saw her lying on the bed, so like the dead that 
his own heart stood still. If he went into the parlor 
her music recalled her, and he could almost fancy the 
graceful, girlish presence near him. Often he took 
from its hiding place the little purse he still kept, 
and held it to his lips. The church bells brought her 



MABEL GORDON 163 

to mind, too, for she was faithful in her worship. 
He remembered how she bore his taunts, and her ear- 
nestness in defending the faith she held. 

He devoted himself to his work, but between him 
and everything he tried to do came a fair, sweet face, 
with soft, purplish-blue eyes, and his heart called 
unceasingly for his enslaver. 

"North and South have met again," he said to him- 
self "and this time I am conquered." 



164 'MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XX. 

The cottage 'neath the oaks never seemed dearer 
to Mabel than when she and Mrs. Rowland reached 
it after their tiresome journey. The parents held her 
so close that Mrs. Rowland feared they meant to keep 
Mabel now that she was once more with them. Nellie 
held out to welcome "Aunt Mabel" a chubby blue-eyed 
boy, which Willie said was the finest baby in the 
world. 

Viney was there to tell her "Mammy had one er 
dem spells she subjec' tuh, 'n little missy mus' cum 
jes' ez soon ez dey could spar her, fo' de ole eyes achin' 
fo' de sight ob her." 

And she was speedily gratified, Mrs. Gordon accom- 
panying Mabel. The old nurse broke into rapturous 
thanksgiving that she w^as permitted to see her "pre- 
shus chile" again, and exclamations of delight over the 
presents brought from '"way off yander." 

"We gwine keep 'ur now, mistis, ain' we?" she 
asked Mrs. Gordon. "We all needs 'ur." 

"Mrs. Rowland says not," the mother replied, "but 
I hope we will make her stay so pleasant that Mabel 
will decide to remain with us. Nellie is a dear daugh- 
ter and great comfort, but you know there can be none 
like my own child." 

"That's for you and father to decide," said the girl, 
"and I rather hope you'll say stay. I could not be 
more pleasantly fixed than I am, and I love my friends 
very much; but home is the sweetest place to me. 
Then that precious baby makes me want to stay." 

"An' so, honey, yer not so kerried 'way wid de 
granjer er de big place whar yer bin stayin' az ter fer- 



MABEL GORDON 165 

git yer own home? Dat's right! Sum on 'em 'bout 
hyur signify how yo' mought be spiled by all de finery 
but I tell 'em yer gwine cum back de same in spirit, no 
mattah how fine yer looks, wid yer cheeks shinin' lak 
Queen Jezebel's. Yas, chile, ole Mammy hab faith in 
yer all de time, caze she got so much in de Lawd, an' 
He de one dat bin watchin' an' guidin' yer all deze 
years. Yer ma gie yer inter His keepin' when yer 
fust draw'd de bref er life. Now tell us 'bout dat tur- 
rible spell er sickness yer had," and Mammy composed 
herself to listen. 

"There's not much to tell," said Mabel. "I was very 
ill, and everybody was so kind to me ; my own people 
could not have been better. Mother, you know some- 
thing of Colonel Chester's kindness." 

"Heaven bless him !" exclaime^d Mrs. Gordon. 
"Those were dark days to us all, and he comforted 
and helped us more than I can tell. I tried to express 
my gratitude in a letter to him, but language failed 
me." 

"I saw your letter, and it was perfect," said Mabel. 
She did not add that Colonel Chester had said they 
were people whose gratitude a little service could gain, 
but their love — well, he didn't believe anyone could get 
that. 

"How did father like him ?" asked Mabel. 

"Very much," said her mother. 

"So he is getting over his prejudice somewhat?" 

"Well, I don't know that he has changed to the peo- 
ple in general ; he thinks highly, of course, of him, and 
says he is under tremendous obligations. Our lawyers 
worked faithfully, but the judge didn't give them a 
fair showing, and he stood in awe of Colonel Chester 
because of his being a Northern man," said Mrs. Gor- 
don. 

"Tell us, honey," said the nurse, "why de kunnel 
tuck the intrus' he did in our po' boy." 



166 'MABEL GORDON 

Mabel's color deepened at the question, but she an- 
swered quietly : 

"He is really a kind man, and he feared my people 
might blame them for my illness, when father wrote 
for me, and I, of course, couldn't come. No one else 
could do the good he could in the case, so he dropped 
everything and rushed to Willie's help." 

And then she went on to tell them of the narrow^ es- 
capes she'd had, and how he saved her, Mammy lis- 
tening with bated breath till she finished. Then such 
praises as Mammy gave her "blessed Lawd." 

Mrs. Gordon's face was very pale, and she held 
Mabel's hand close, w^hile she murmured heartfelt 
thanks for her child's preservation. 

"We'll hatter keep her wid us, I reck'n," said Mam- 
my. "Look lak it temptin' Providence ter let her go 
back." 

The old woman's suspicions about the cause of 
Colonel Chester's interest once aroused, she wasn't 
satisfied till she could question Mabel, so at the first 
opportunity of talking privately she asked : 

"Little Missy, didn' dat kunnel do so much fer yer 
becaze he want yer fer hese'f? Tell ole Mammy, 
honey. Yo' sholy ain' 'fraid ter trus' her atter alius 
cumin' ter her wad 5'-o' trials !" 

Then Mabel told her of his love, but kept from her 
the causes of her refusals. 

"An' he can't git yq' heart? Well, honey, he mus' 
be a fine man frum all yer say, but I bleebs I des as 
lief yer keep on tellin' him 'no,' fer he moiight haf sum 
knowledge er de 'stroyance er our home, an' I got too 
much pride fer a Gawd'n ter tek a home frum one dat 
burnt hers, do' it seem right an' proper dat he shou'd 
gie yer annuder fine one in de place er de one he 
'stroyed." 

"Why, Mammy!" exclaimed Mabel, "you talk as if 
Colonel Chester himself did that." 



MABEL GORDON 167 

"An' so he moiight, but frum de tenderness er his 
sister's heart I doubts his bein' de ve'ey one. Still, I 
holds him 'sponsible fer er heap er de devilment dat 
went on den. Is I tell yer 'bout yer udder beau cumin' 
ter see me? Yas, he manages ter run in whenebber 
he fetches dat po'ly creeter ter de Springs. Dey tell me 
he mighty kin' an' good ter her, an' dat dey ain' nuttin' 
she calls fer dat he fail ter get. I feel sorry fer bofe 
de po' things. He sont me sum fine liquor, an' cum he- 
self ter see me, 'fer de sake er ole times,' he say, an' he 
talk an' talk erbout when you an' him wuz young, an' 
how he 'membrinced de pleasant walks you took ter- 
gedder, an' I des boun' ter feel fer him, an' tell him 
ter drap in an' see me whenebber he wuz erbout hyur. 
Honey, is all de hurt gone out er yer heart, er is dat de 
reason yer say 'no' so menny times ter de kunnel?" 

"That was one reason," admitted Mabel, "but I 
think the hurt is gone away now, and but for a natural 
horror I have of him, for certain views he holds, I 
might be very fond of him." 

"Can't he turn dem loose, chile? Whut de mattah 
wid dem? Tell me, baby, an' I promis' nobody will 
heer ob 'em frum me." 

Thus entreated, Mabel told her that Colonel Ches- 
ter believed in no future for the soul — no God. 

"Whut!" almost screamed the old nurse. "Yo' say 
dat man so smaht an' got so much sense! Honey, de 
bible say de fool say dat. Lawd hab mussy on de po' 
sinner fool ! Chile, I des' as soon fer yo' ter be playin' 
wid rattlesnakes as ter let dat pizenous creetur cum 
nigh yer. He mought 'swade yer ter lub him, an' den 
'stroy yer faith in de Lawd, an', chile, de 'stroyance er 
yer earthly home wuz nuttin', cru'l as it waz, ter takin' 
away dat heabenly one. Don't go back dere, fer ef yer 
faith is strong now, 3^er is only human, an' ef yer 
should ebber lub him, den yer dun fer. Er woman 
alius did let her heart rule her head, an' he mought git 



168 MABEL GORDON 

yer min' confuse up so dat yo'd beleeb him. You 
can't cum in daily contac' wid anything dirty an' not 
git s'iled." 

"Long ago, Mammy," said Mabel, "I gave my heart 
into my Savior's keeping, and He will help me to be 
faithful. I do not depend on my own strength at all. 
I want you to help me pray for Colonel Chester — that 
his blinded eyes may be opened and his heart given to 
God. Your prayers have helped me so much when I 
was in sore need, I believe you could prevail now." 

"Well, chile, ef it any cumfort ter yer ter feel dat 
dis ole 'oman is prayin' fer yer fren' I'll go ter de 
Mahster constant an' treat ter be mussiful. He needs 
all de mussy he can git, but, honey, don't you nebber 
tell dat man yer'll marry him des' as long as he 'fuses 
ter bow ter de Lawd. Yer know, chile, one er dem 
good men whut writ de scripter az dey got it frum de 
Lawd (I beleeb it wuz Isayer, er Je'eymiah, I fergits 
which — my 'membunce er names ain't good — but that is 
needer here ner dere; it in de bible, an' dat settle it), 
say fer yer ter not be yoked wid onbeleebers, an' when 
God say dat he meant fer his chillun ter heed him. Let 
him alone, my baby ; ef yer git ter lubbin' him so much 
yer heart fairly burn when yer hear de soun' er his 
voice." 

" 'Twas Paul, the apostle, gave the advice you quot- 
ed then. Mammy, and I agree with you in regard to 
heeding it," replied Mabel. 

"Yes, 'twuz him, I 'member now, an' do' Ise hear 
sum folks say he nebber had no kin' er wife, yit we 
knows he knowed whut he talkin' 'bout, en' dat he 
wuz 'specially 'structed. So he'll do fer er safe guid- 
ance in ebert'ing. He had mo' sense dan all de Kunnel 
Chesters de worl' could hoi', an' ef he could trus' as 
he did it look lak dat po' worm er de earth mought 
quit he foolishness. 'Scuse me, honey, ef I calls him 
whut yer don't want ter hear, but it meks ole Mammy 



MABEL GORDON 169 

mad ter hear er folks 'tendin' ter hab sense an' 'nyin' 
dere is er God." 

"Well, don't let it make you angry, for that will 
do no good, but pray that he may be brought to his 
senses. If you knew him apart from his infidelity you 
would think him a grand man." 

"He may be all dat," answered the nurse, "an' I 
not lak him. Honey, I not got no use fer enny pusson 
dat sez er wurd 'gin my white folks, en' how I gwine 
lak one dat 'sputes de wurd er my Great Mahster, 
whut lubbed dis ole nigga befo' she bawn, an' fix er 
way fer me ter sum day lay down deze aches 'n' pains 
an' go up 'n' jine de white robe' th'ong 'roun' de 
throne, 'n' praise Him eberlastin'ly. Praise de Lam' ! 
Chile, ole Mammy got ter whar she mus' shout. De 
time ain' fur off now when she'll heer dem songs er 
glory an' walk dem golden streets, 'deemed by de blood 
er de Lam', bless de Lawd ! Yas, I mi'ty sinner ; but 
ole Dicey gwine hoi' out ef she do keep fallin' ; she'll 
rize ebe'ytime. De One dat begun dis wurk will fin- 
ish it if I trus' Him ez I should, an', honey, it better 
ter hab His lub an' 'tection dan de bigges' man in de 
worl'. So yo' let dat kunnel 'lone twel he cum ter his 
senses 'n' yo' 'bide in de Rock Chris' Jesus." 

"Give yourself no uneasiness," said the girl. "I am 
full of faults, but for no earthly love will I give up 
my eternal hope. Now let me read to you, and then I 
will have to go home, for mother counts the hours that 
I am away from her, and Mrs. Rowland wants me 
with her, too." 

Mammy listened delightedly, was profuse in her 
thanks, and Mabel had to promise to return soon when 
she rose to leave. 

She had told Mammy that the hurt caused by Allan 
was gone, and to find if any of the old infatuation re- 
mained she went over again the old haunts, recalled 
the scenes they enjoyed together, and the time he bade 



170 MABEL GORDON 

her good-bye, when she had felt as might a Httle child 
whom a strong hand suddenly turns loose. The merry 
youth of those days, and the man, self-doomed to his 
loveless task, seemed to be two separate beings. For the 
frank, helpful boy she would always cherish kind rec- 
ollections and gratitude for his timely stimulus, which 
made her so determined to secure an education ; but 
for the man who could ask her, because he said he 
loved her, to give up all she held dear, and go delib- 
erately into sin, only feelings of deepest horror. 

Colonel Chester would not have done that, she 
thought, heathen that he was called. Then she thought 
of Allan, as Mammy spoke of him, and pitied him sin- 
cerely, but pity was all she felt. She was free in- 
deed. 

The stay in her home was so delightful the time 
flew by too rapidly. Colonel Chester wrote and re- 
minded them that he was not enjoying the days so 
much, and would be glad to have them return. No let- 
ter ever came to Mabel, for he could not trust himself 
to write to her, but there were messages always. At 
last he wrote that he must go abroad in the interest of 
a client and would be gone a long time hunting for old 
records. 

"So you will have to come home, for Louis will 
need you when I leave," he wrote. "Bring Miss Gor- 
don with you, and tell her I say the house will no 
doubt be pleasanter to her with me out of it. Nobody 
will tease her then, and neither can she engage in mis- 
sion work right near her, for every other member of 
our household is wonderfully good, though I some- 
times miss little articles, such as cuff-buttons, rings, 
etc. Of course, it would not do to say any of the 
'burning and shining lights' employed by us ever even 
looked covetously upon anything." 

Mabel laughed as she read that — it sounded so like 
him. 



MABEL GORDON 171 

"You are going with me, of course, Mabel," said 
her friend; "I could not think of returning without 
you, especially since Rudolf is to be gone, and he will 
be so much better satisfied to leave you with me, for it 
would be so lonely there without you. I will give you 
all the pleasure I can." 

"If my parents agree, I will go with you," replied ' 
the girl, and Mrs. Rowland again succeeded in carry- 
ing her point. 
■ Before they left, Mrs. Gordon said to Mabel : 

"Daughter, from what you say of Colonel Chester, 
I think he must be a man one could admire and even 
love if thrown with him much. Child, is your heart 
untouched by him?" 

Blushing under her mother's look, she yet answered 
calmly : 

"If I care for him other than a friend I am not 
conscious of it." 

"And he? Has all his kindness been the expression 
of simple friendship?" next inquired Mrs. Gordon. 

Then Mabel told her of his love and her repeated 
refusals, and the mother said : 

"I hope, my child, that you will never let brilliant 
worldly prospects cause you to form an alliance if your 
heart does not sanction it, for marriage without love is 
an unholy thing. I would prefer your not returning 
with your friend, since her brother is your suitor ; but 
she is so lonely and begs pitifully for you, and as he 
will be away you will not be thrown with him. Then 
he may see someone abroad that he will fancy and 
quit seeking your love. Your father would hate to see 
you marry anyone belonging to those who opposed us." 

"Please don't tell him of this," begged Mabel, "for 
it will only make him uneasy for nothing. I am sure 
Colonel Chester and I will never be anything save 
friends." 

So she believed; and when on reaching Mrs, Row- 



172 MABEL GORDON 

land's home, she found herself looking for him, and 
disappointed in not seeing him, she was surprised. 
He had not waited for them to come, and both felt lost 
without him to welcome them. Others called and tried 
to make Mabel enjoy her stay, but none could fill the 
place he held. She grew restless and homesick, and 
Mrs. Rowland was distressed. 

"Dear me, Mabel," she said, "if you get into such 
a state, and Rudolf gone, what am I to do? I have 
no one to comfort me, and I was selfish enough to want 
you because you are such a comfort. I miss Rudolf 
sadly." 

"Forgive me, dear lady," begged the girl. "I am 
selfish to let my feelings worry you when you are 
already troubled. I know% with one brother in the 
asylum and another gone, you have enough to bear, 
and you shall not see me 'mope' any more." 

Why was it nobody could please her as formerly? 
Gradually the truth dawned upon her. She loved him. 
At last it had come as he said, but he was not there 
for her to tell him, and then the barriers between them 
were the same. She listened eagerly to Katie's ac- 
count of the master's loneliness and restlessness while 
they were gone. Once she stole into his room, holding 
her breath at her temerity. She had been in there 
often when he was in the city, and it was no more 
than entering any ordinary apartment to see if it was 
in perfect order, but now^ everything in it possessed 
an interest to her. A dressing robe hung where she 
could see it, and she took it in her arms, resting her 
face on it, caressing the inanimate thing because it had 
enveloped that dear form. And she prayed : 

"Oh, God, bring him back to me and remove all 
barriers, that I may tell him his love is returned, 
measure for measure." 

The days dragged after she knew that she could 
satisfy his heart. Sometimes she was tempted to write 



MABEL GORDON 173 

and tell him his waiting was over, but it was impos- 
sible to put it in cold writing when he w^as silent, 
though that silence was caused by her. She grew shy 
and reticent, and hardly ever spoke of him to Mrs. 
Rowland, but she would slip into the library and stand 
before his portrait and study his face, and the music 
he liked she practiced most. 

If Mrs. Rowland thought that she cared for Colonel 
Chester she did not mention it, but Dr. Warren ven- 
tured sometimes to tease her, for he knew how the 
cool imperturbable lawyer had broken down under his 
grief w'hen the girl was ill. 

He had asked her to tell him when love came, but 
she could not write it ; she would wait till the full tones 
of his voice vibrated on her heart and she could feel 
his love for her. Oh, if he only could know of the 
joy awaiting him he would hurry nome. Then came 
the thought : 

"If I tell him that I care for him as he wants, there 
w^ill be a struggle, for he will want me to marry him, 
and I cannot as he is. Oh, Rudolf, my heart's king, why 
cannot you believe in the God I worship! Had you 
my place, I would love Him for your sake, if no more ! 
Am I destined always to care for those w^ho will not 
believe? Oh, Lord, help me now-, for I am in dire 
need. Let me do nothing Thou wouldst condemn, and 
strengthen me that I may do my duty." 



174 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XXL 

After what seemed an age to Mabel, there came a 
letter saying his work was nearing an end, and he 
would soon start for home. 

"You hear that, Mabel?" said Mrs. Rowland. "Our 
dear one will soon start homeward. I say *our' be- 
cause if you love me you must also care for my boy. 
Rejoice with me, child !" 

Rejoice! When every pulse was beating full with 
joy already. Ah, the master was coming, and he 
would find a reward for his patience and devotion, be- 
cause he had said to win her love would compensate 
for all. The whole world grew brighter to her and 
songs burst from her lips, so happy was she. 

Then one day came another letter, and it bore the 
news that he would be home on the "Sea Gull," which 
was nearly due, and he wrote : 

"I am bringing you a young sister, Augusta, whom 
you will love, so be prepared to welcome her warmly. 
Tell Miss Gordon she is almost as pretty as she is." 

Mrs. Rowland sat like one stunned. 

"Mabel," she said, "read this and tell me what it 
means ?" 

The girl took the letter and read the fatal words. 

"His letter is so brief!" she said through bloodless 
lips, and then she could say no more, for it seemed as 
if something clutched her heart and stopped every 
pulse. 

"Can Rudolf have married over there and taken this 
way of telling me ? If he were given to jesting I would 
think him in fun. I had other hopes for him, and now 



MABEL GORDON 175 

they are blasted. What made him so precipitate ? He 
should have told me of it when he wrote before, for 
surely they have not met and married since ! I believe 
Rudolf is as crazy as poor Louis. Well, if they are com- 
ing on the "Sea Gull" they will soon be here, and we 
will arrange the blue room for her, and try to give her 
the welcome he wants her to get. We will go out and 
make some purchases, for Rudolf has such exquisite 
taste he will criticise the apartment, and I want some 
little articles to complete a bride's chamber. Dear me, 
I am so dazed I don't know whether I'll buy the right 
thing or not," complained JMrs. Rowland. 

Mabel went about like one in a dream, numbed by 
the blow. By and by she would realize it all and then 
w^ould come the battle. She was so glad that her maid- 
enly modesty had kept her from writing him of the 
change in her feelings. Now he would never know, 
and as she had kept from Allan that she cared for 
him when her young heart was bursting with love and 
grief, so she would hide all from Colonel Chester. The 
same Helper she found before was ready still, her 
never-failing refuge in times of trouble. Fool had she 
been to believe that an earthly love could last, and to 
know that there was a love all true, tender and patient 
soothed her poor, wounded heart, for, with all her 
gentleness, she had a share of pride that would help 
to carry her through and keep anyone from knowing of 
her trouble. 

"As birds above a wounded, bleeding breast, 
Their bright plumes cast," 

she would throw around her aching heart a mantle 
that would hide all ; and quietly she w'ent about, helping 
Mrs. Rowland to make beautiful the bride's room. 

But it would be impossible to stay there and daily 
witness his happiness — there, where everything re- 



176 MABEL GORDON 

called his vows of constancy to her. She had dreamed 
of being near and seeing him look down in the fair 
face raised to his ; had seen the rare smile he had only 
for her before he went away ; the love-light in his eyes, 
and heard the low, deep voice murmur words of love, 
and she knew it took more strength than she had to 
attempt to remain where he lived. 

Feeling thus, she slipped away to another part of 
the city and secured a place in a dressmaking estab- 
lishment she knew of. Mrs. Rowland knew nothing 
of her determination, for to tell her of it involved ex- 
posing her love, and that lady would have opposed her 
leaving. She could not go to her home then, for her 
heart was so sad they would find out her trouble in 
time, and, besides, Mrs. Rowland would go there after 
her. She watched her opportunity, had her trunk re- 
moved, and the day the couple were to come wrote 
Mrs. Rowland a note, telling her she had concluded to 
leave and could not bear to tell her so; that she need 
not look for her at her home, as she would not go 
there, neither must she write her parents that she had 
left, and some time she would return to her. 

"Thanks to your generosity," she said, "I have 
plenty to live upon for a good while, and I shall work, 
for in that only can I find any consolation. Don't 
worry about me, please, and don't try to find me. I 
am going where you will not see me. Bless you, dear- 
est and kindest of friends, for your kindness to me. I 
trust my place will be more than filled and your home 
brightened by the young sister your brother is bring- 
ing to you." 

She stole into Mrs. Rowland's room and laid the 
note on her table, then she turned away from the home 
she loved so dearly, and never more than when slie 
bade it farewell, to face her new life. A few hours 
after she left. Colonel Chester arrived with his fair 
companion, whom he introduced to Mrs. Rowland. 



MABEL GORDON 177 

"Augusta, this is our Elise, and how we met I will 
explain later on. Now, sisters, you must proceed to 
'fall in love' with each other. Where is Miss Gordon 
that she does not give us a welcome? I counted on 
her to make it pleasant for this girl." 

"I haven't seen Mabel in several hours," replied Mrs. 
Rowland. "She left me that I might rest and be fresh 
when our dear ones came. I welcome you, Elise, to 
our home. Come to your room and refresh yourself, 
and I will find Mabel." So she led the girl to her 
apartment, every detail of which Mabel had arranged 
with dainty touches while her heart ached. 

"How beautiful !" exclaimed Elise. "Iss all this 
lufly room all my own?" 

"Yours, dear," said Mrs. Rowland, "and I am glad 
you like it. 'Tis none too pretty for its occupant. I 
do not wonder Rudolf fell in love so speedily. Now, 
rest, change your dress and be ready to enjoy tea. I 
will go to find our Mabel, and you shall see her soon. 
Do you want Rudolf to do anything, or have you 
learned to make your toilette without asking him what 
dress you shall put on?" 

"No," said Elise, "I try to please his taste, but he 
hass not yet told me how to dress. I hope to satisfy 
you." 

"And I am sure you will," returned Mrs. Rowland, 
smiling. Then she kissed the fair face, lifted to her 
with a wistful kind of look upon it, and went in quest 
of Mabel. To her own chamber she went first, and 
happened to see the note left for her. Wondering, she 
took it and read it, then rang the bell for a servant. 

"Tell Colonel Chester to come to me," she com- 
manded when Katie appeared, and he came quickly, for 
the girl said her mistress was trembling and seemed 
frightened. 

"Are you ill, Augusta ?" he asked. 



178 MABEL GORDON 

"Worse than that," she replied. "Read this and 
tell me what to do. It is a note from Mabel." 

He seized and hurriedly read it. 

"We must find her," he said, "if everything else goes 
undone. Had she seemed dissatisfied?" 

"She was not very well," returned the lady, "but I 
thought she was contented. I don't understand her 
conduct." 

"I'll wire to see if she goes home," said Colonel 
Chester. 

"No, you must not let them know she has left us. 
She won't go there, and it will only alarm her parents. 
We must keep it from them till we find her. Perhaps 
she will return." 

He passed his hand over his brow and tried to 
think as he studied the note he held. 

"I will go," he said, "to the different stations, and 
see if she has left the city. Perhaps I can learn some- 
thing of her in that way. Is not this a sad home-com- 
ing to one who longed to get back as I have? Take 
care of Elise and tell her I will be back ere long." 

He went hurriedly away, and Mrs. Rowland, all 
dazed and troubled, was left to comfort the young 
stranger. When he returned, tired and worried, from 
his fruitless search, she met him anxiously. 

"There is nothing to go upon," he said, wearily. 

"You are tired and worn, brother," the lady said; 
"come and have something to eat and try to be fresh 
for the sake of Elise. I had her tea served while you 
were gone, for I didn't know how long you would be 
away." 

He followed her silently, and drank the steaming 
beverage, but no food passed his lips. 

"Tell me about Elise. You wrote so little we could 
get nothing from that. I was surprised at your falling 
in love so quickly," said Mrs. Rowland. 



MABEL GORDON 179 

"I did not fall in love," he answered. "What do 
you mean, Augusta?" 

"Then why did you marry her?" she asked. 

He stared at her a moment, then he said : 

"I am not married. She is our sister." 

"Rudolf, are you crazy?" cried the lady. 

"Not at all, and if you will give me time I will ex- 
plain. You know our father went abroad after mother 
died, and that he died in Germany. It seemed he mar- 
ried a lady there, and Elise is their daughter. He did 
not inform us of his marriage, or, if he did, his letter 
failed to reach us, and he didn't live long. His widow 
lived several years, and, dying, left the child to her 
brother's care. In my hunt for old records in the case 
that carried me off, I had to go to him, where I saw 
the girl, was struck with her appearance, and upon 
hearing her name, inquired and found out her parent- 
age and relationship to us. I asked her uncle to let her 
come home with me, and he agreed. Whereupon I 
wrote you that hasty line, thinking to explain all when 
I reached home, and never supposed you would think 
of marriage." 

"Well, as you said you were bringing me a young 
sister, and as I had no knowledge of father's mar- 
riage, I naturally thought it was a nice way of telling 
me you were married," responded Mrs. Rowland. 

"Did Miss Gordon believe the same?" he inquired. 

"Certainly, for what else could she think?" 

"You and she might have waited for me to explain," 
he said. 

Mrs. Rowland smiled. 

"How like a man!" 

"And how like women to jump at conclusions! 
Now here Miss Gordon has gone rushing off and I 
will have to find her, but I'd rather hunt for old law 
papers. Dear me! What possessed her to act this 
way ?" 



180 MABEL GORDON 

"I don't know," replied his sister. "You are tired 
and need to rest. Go to bed and sleep, and in the 
morning you can begin your search afresh. I will try 
to be companionable to Elise till Mabel comes back. 
You brought a sweet sister home, and no doubt the 
house will be much brighter for her coming, and if 
Mabel should never return we will not be alone." 

"You are easily consoled," he said sternly. "I 
thought nobody could take Miss Gordon's place with 
you." 

"Neither can it be filled," she replied. "I miss Mabel 
more than you can imagine, and shall not have an easy 
moment till she is found." 

He couldn't imagine how she would miss Mabel ! 
She would never know how he longed for the girl. 
How sick and hurt he was over her flight. How he 
had yearned for her and worked faithfully, even when 
ill, to get back to his idol, and he could almost fancy 
the sweet smile she would give in welcome, even if she 
regarded him only as a friend. He paced the floor of 
his room, too restless to try to sleep. John came in 
very quietly and handed him his dressing gown, and 
lingered to help him in any way he could, for he felt 
that the master's heart was troubled, and, servant that 
he was, he, too, was worried at Mabel's departure. 

After Colonel Chester had dismissed him and was 
trying to rest, as he leaned back in his easy-chair near 
the shaded drop-light, he saw, glistening in the mellow 
radiance, a shining strand of hair on the breast of his 
dressing gown. He took it and looked at it curiously, 
holding it near the light. 

"A woman's hair," he said, "and on my coat ! How 
came it here? And I do believe it is IMabel's! See 
how it clings to my finger, and the richness of its hue ! 
I would like to know how it got on this garment. Has 
her dear head rested on it, and how came it to do so ?" 

A book lay on the table near, and he drew it to him 



MABEL GORDON 181 

to lay the hair away. He opened at the fly-leaf upon 
which his name was written, and under his name he 
saw in Mabel's writing, 

"Oh, Heaven! were man constant he were perfect" 



<n 



'What does this mean?" he said. "Did you doubt 
my constancy, darling, and did you care? Ah, Mabel, 
you are giving me light ! Love had come as I said, and 
I will find you now if it costs my life. I understand 
this quotation, but the hair is a mystery. Dear little 
girl, could I see you now I would hold your beautiful 
head so close to my heart you would hear it throbbing 
with love for you. How could you believe me false 
after all the proofs I had given of devotion? Where 
are you now, my love, while I sit here longing for you ? 
Augusta said for me to sleep, but how can I sleep when 
heart and brain are on fire?" 

He rose and paced the floor, trying to overcome his 
impatience to be at work hunting for Mabel, and so 
Mrs. Rowland found him when she came to see how he 
felt. 

"Rudolf," she said, "I sent you to rest, and here 
you are pacing the floor like a caged lion." 

"I can't help it," he said. "If you knew half how- 
miserable I am, you would understand how impossible 
it is for me to be still." 

"Brother," she said, "tell me truly, are you not 
more interested in Mabel than you have let me be- 
lieve? You act like a man deeply in love." 

"And so I am," he replied. "I adore her, and the 
disappointment and suspense are killing me." 

"Why didn't you tell me of this before?" she asked. 

"Because she gave me no hope, and it would have 
embarrassed her to have you know it, and made her 
leave, while it was more than I could bear to lose her 
altogether," he answered. 



182 MABEL GORDON 

"I believe she found that she loved you after her 
return, and that accounts for her restlessness and 
homesickness. She missed you, brother." 

"Do you think so?" he asked. "Precious child! I 
must find you now that there is hope for me. Au- 
gusta, if my search should be fruitless, then madness 
or death!" 

"I pray it may not be either. Rudolf, my only 
earthly comfort now, for my sake control yourself and 
hope for the best," pleaded his sister. 

"See here," he said, "what I found on my coat." 

She took the strand of hair he held and looked at it 
closely. 

"Mabel's hair!" she said. "How came it there?" 

"I don't know, but I rejoice to find it. Tell me of 
her, my sister ; is she as pretty as when I saw her last?" 

"Prettier, I think, and more lovable. I do not won- 
der that you love her, but do, my dear boy, love with 
some reason." 

"Louis and I can't do that," he said. It is life or 
death to us." 

"But, dear, Mabel can be found. Be of good cheer, 
try to rest, and save your strength to hunt for her. 
Call the police to help you." 

"Don't you know her well enough to know if I were 
to put them on her track when she is trying to hide 
from me that she never would forgive me?" he asked. 

"And you are going to try to find her unaided? 
Poor bo)^ ! You certainly do have a hard time winning 
your happiness. If you and she had not been so still- 
tongued none of this would have occurred, for I would 
have assured Mabel that you were true and gotten her 
to await an explanation of your letter. Knowing you 
as I do, I know it would be impossible for you to 
change as she believed you had, and fled, poor child, to 
keep from seeing you give another the devotion hither- 
to lavished on her." 



MABEL GORDON 183 

"I know now that my letter was hard to understand, 
but I had assured her so often of my constancy and 
loved her so devotedly, I thought she could believe 
nothing else, even if she never loved me in return. 
But, alas, my fond hopes are doomed to disappoint- 
ment, and I cannot face the future years. My heart 
cries out for Mabel. I must appear silly to you, sister, 
but you can't know how dear she is to me." 

Mrs. Rowland sighed as she answered : 

"Not to me, brother, for I, too, have loved and have 
seen the grave close over my darling." 

"And yet you lived ! Augusta, if I lose Mabel I will 
not live," he declared. 

"You would be too brave a man to end your own 
life. Think of those who live on through intense suf- 
fering for years and never seek relief in death. If 
you believed in the God Mabel worships you could 
bear trouble better. He would help you. And, Ru- 
dolph, I don't say it to force you in any way or to add 
to what you already endure, but I honestly believe if 
you find our dear one she will never be yours as long 
as you are what you are. I heard her one day when 
she thought no one was near, and she was praying so 
earnestly for you." 

Colonel Chester's eyes grew moist, and he pulled 
his moustache as he did when at a loss what to say. 

"Go on," he said, as his sister stopped. "Teirme 
more." 

"I will have to go to Elise soon, for she wanted to 
hear from you before she slept. We must keep from 
her the cause of Mabel's flight, for it would grieve her 
very much to know her coming caused all this trouble. 
I hope Mabel will see her folly and return soon. She 
knows how I love and need her and how responsible 
I feel, having persuaded her parents to let me bring 
her here." 

"You say my little girl prayed for me?" he asked. 



184 MABEL GORDON 

"Bless her pure heart ! I beHeve if there is any truly 
good woman she is that one." 

"Yes, she is good," rejoined Mrs. Rowland, "and if 
she could see you the same she would be supremely 
happy." 

"Then, for her sake, I wish I felt as she does," he 
answered. 

"Oh, brother, wish it for your own sake. I must 
leave you now. Try to rest, and don't let yourself fear 
that Mabel is gone to stay. You will have to see 
Louis as soon as you can, and you must be bright." 

"How is the dear fellow?" asked Colonel Chester. 
"I have been so taken up by this fresh sorrow I 
neglected to ask about him." 

"He is doing very well, right now, I believe. I am 
more worried on your account than his. I want to see 
that look get off your face. Good-night, my boy," and 
tenderly as a mother might have done she put her arms 
around the stalwart man and kissed him. 

"Good-night, sister," he said. "You have com- 
forted me much, though until I find my darling there 
won't be any real peace for me." 



MABEL GORDON 185 



CHAPTER XXII. 

Anxious as Colonel Chester was to begin his search 
for Mabel, yet he had to control himself and give his 
partner an exhaustive report of the case they were en- 
gaged upon, so that he might take it all in hand. His 
work over, he said : 

"Now you will have to do this all yourself, for I 
am obliged to look after some business I am vitally 
concerned about." 

"Anything I can do to help you?" asked the other. 

"Nothing, thank you, only to attend to our law of- 
fice. I shall be away a great deal of the time, and 
you will have to represent both." 

"To the best of my ability. Get to your work at 
once, for you are worried, I see," his friend advised. 

As Dr. Warren's calling led him to so many 
places, and he already knew of his love, Colonel Ches- 
ter went to him to get his assistance in finding Mabel. 

"So she has gone !" exclaimed the old man. "Well, 
well, these women are enigmas. What is the reason 
they can't trust a man ! Yes, my boy, I'll do all I can 
in a quiet way to find the child, and when she is found, 
Rudolf, you hold her while some'body runs for the 
preacher, and have the knot tied at once, lest she should 
vanish again. I am interested in her myself; have 
been ever since she pulled through that attack of fever. 
But she will keep out of my way, because I am your 
family physician. Cheer up, though, and let us hope. 
You deserve her, I think, and she can do no better than 
to give herself into your keeping. But, hark ye, lad, 
don't let this prey on your mind till it sends you to 
Louis," warned the doctor. 



186 MABEL GORDON 

Elise met him with her gentle sympathy. 

"Haf you not find her yet?" she asked in her pretty, 
broken Enghsh. 

"No, child," he said; "she has flown far away." 

"Did she not lofe you and our sister?" the girl 
queried next. 

"She was devoted to Augusta," he answered. 

"And not to you! She would haf to lofe one so 
kint and goot." 

"I am not good," he said. 

"Not?" and the blue eyes opened wide. "You are 
so goot to me, and I lofe you much." 

"Do you, little sister," he smiled. "Then you must 
love our Mabel, too." 

"She iss much trouble to you. I not lofe her if she 
keep you looking so tired and worn," declared the girl. 

"She is not to blame," he said, for he could not hear 
his idol charged with his suffering, and even his sweet 
young sister must be careful. 

Elise was very winning, and made her way 
into the hearts of all the household, but there 
was a place sacred to the absent one. even she 
could not fill. Mrs. Rowland grieved sorely, though 
for her brother's sake she tried to keep up hope, yet as 
time passed and no trace of Mabel could be found, she 
lost heart. Colonel Chester took a trip to Mabel's 
native place, ostensibly to see about investing 
in property there, but really to see if Mabel might 
not have gone home, and there he heard she was with 
her friends still. He kept well out of sight of the Gor- 
dons, for he couldn't answer their questions about her. 
He had looked faithfully the city over, and sometimes 
he was filled with hope by the poise of a dainty head, 
which, when turned, crushed him with disappointment, 
for no pansy-blue eyes looked into his and no rebel- 
lious gold-brown curls clustered around the fair fore- 
head. The long, tiresome search was telling on him, 



MABEL GORDON 187 

and his sister's anxiety increased. Louis was improv- 
ing rapidly, her hopes for him growing brighter every 
day, and now her splendid Rudolf seemed to be sink- 
ing into the gloom from which the other was emerging. 
Why were her boys doomed to such sadness ! 

During Mabel's stay with them he often wanted to 
accompany her to divine service, not that he cared for 
anything he might hear, but to be with her. Yet fear- 
ing she might think he was feigning an interest in re- 
ligion to win her, and, knowing how she despised du- 
plicity, he never asked to go with her; but after her 
flight he was often at the different churches, knowing 
if she went out at all it would be there. Elise gen- 
erally accompanied him, when near enough, and the 
impression went abroad that he had brought a wife 
home with him. Mrs. Rowland begged him to give 
up his hunt and try to accept his fate, but he answered : 

"I can't while I have no proof of her death or mar- 
riage. If it worries you to see me as I am, take Elise 
and travel. I must stay where there is hope of some 
time seeing Mabel." 

"Indeed, we will not leave you thus," replied his 
sister, "and if I can help you in any way I want to do 
it. I miss Mabel, too, and want her back again." 

"You seem to be quite happy, I think, and easily con- 
soled ; but, then, she was not to you all she was and is 
to me. I am getting disheartened about my search," 
he said sadly. 

"And it is telling on you," returned Mrs. Rowland. 
"Won't you try to quit thinking as you do? I hear 
you at night, when you should be asleep, and your ap- 
petite is almost gone. Even your fine health will give 
way under the strain." 

"At that rate, my looks will not please my darling 
when I find her," he said, "and she may not like me. 
Well, health and strength are spent for her. Let me 
alone, sister; I am satisfied only when seeking her." 



188 MABEL GORDON 

"I am powerless to help you," sighed the lady. "Oh, 
that the Almighty would give you strength and com- 
fort you ! Rudolf, you know where Mabel found help, 
and where she would have you go to find peace, and if 
you would ask divine guidance no doubt you would 
be helped. Don't hold onto your poor, powerless in- 
fidelity any longer, when your heart is starving for the 
comfort it should receive gladly. Go to the Lord, 
Mabel's dear Lord, and ask Him to help you." 

"Don't you think it would be somewhat cowardly in 
me to scoff at Him as I have in my prosperity, and 
then, as soon as trouble comes, fly to him?" 

"He may be doing this to bring you to Him, for His 
ways are past finding out, you know, and, knowing 
your heart is wrapped up in that girl. He causes you 
to lose your idol, perhaps, to draw you to Him. Mabel 
could find the hand of Providence in it somewhere." 

"Dear child !" he said, "her faith was beautiful, and 
if I ever do change it will be due to her influence." 

"She was a help to me," said the lady. "Those par- 
ents builded better than they knew when they trained 
her heart and mind." 

"She was a revelation to me of all that was pure 
and sweet," he said, "and if I fail to find her the sun 
of my life will go down in darkness." 

"Had I dreamed of such as this coming to you that 
girl would have stayed in her own home, much as I 
fancied her," replied Mrs. Rowland. 

"Never speak of her in that way to me again if you 
love me," her brother said, more sternly than she ever 
knew him. "She is not to blame, and how know you 
what she may be enduring now, for I feel that she 
loved me, and her heart carries a burden, too." 

"Poor child ! that is true. Well, there is only One 
can bring peace to you both, and I pray He will pity 
you. I know where Mabel goes to be cheered, when 



MABEL GORDON 189 

her heart is sad, and I wish you would go to Him. 
God bless you, my brother, and open your heart to re- 
ceive the comfort He alone can give." 

Touching her lips to the broad brow, Mrs. Row- 
land said good-night and went softly away. 



190 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

And what of Mabel all this time? How had the 
days passed to her, separated from those she loved? 
Was it possible to hush the cry of her hungry heart? 
No; every day was a warfare, for she longed unceas- 
ingly for her dear ones, and to forget the intense long- 
ing she worked untiringly, thereby winning the good 
will of Madame Dufour and of the girls she often as- 
sisted. She kept out of sight as much as possible, and 
never went out unveiled, or, if at night, she wore dark 
glasses to protect her eyes, and her riotous curls she 
pulled into subjection. 

As Mrs. Rowland seldom went out she had no fear 
of meeting her. She had seen Colonel Chester sev- 
eral times, and her heart bounded at the sight of the 
tall, erect figure. 

Once she went with some of the girls to hear a 
famous lecturer, and was so close to her one-time 
lover she might have touched him, but a fair-haired 
girl leaned on his arm, and she said to herself, "I do 
not wonder that he loved her;" then, when she saw 
his tender, protecting manner, and heard him speak her 
name in the low, rich tones she remembered so well 
and which vibrated on her heartstrings as no music 
had ever done, she thought, "I know she must love 
him, and of course they are happy; so if life is sweet 
to him I can bear its bitterness, for I have a consola- 
tion he knows nothing of. 



MABEL GORDON 191 

'Dear Lord, if it is best. 

Make him more glad! 
Give to him joy and rest; 

I may be sad — 
/ can most lonely be, 
Dear Lord, if only he 

Is made more glad.' " 



He had a right to woo and win that sweet girl, but 
it was strange he could change so soon; then she re- 
membered that she had given him no hope, and it was 
not possible for a man to love on when he got no en- 
couragement. She was to blame in not knowing her 
own heart sooner, and if she awoke to the knowledge 
too late, why she must bear the sad awakening — and 
alone. No, not alone, for there was a never-failing 
source of comfort to which she went and received full 
measure of strength. So she lived, every day growing 
gentler and sweeter, drawing to her those near, espe- 
cially all troubled souls, for her sympathy was bound- 
less. In helping others to bear their burdens her own 
grew lighter, and she found a degree of contentment 
she had not thought to reach. 

Believing Colonel Chester to be happy helped to 
make her so, for his welfare and happiness concerned 
her more than all else. 

It seemed fated that she should live out life alone, 
and, since such must be, she would brighten all other 
lives as much as possible. Whenever there was any 
trouble bet^veen some girl and her lover, to Mabel flew 
the distressed damsel, confident that help and sympa- 
thy would be found there. 

"Mabel," sometimes was said, "you are so young and 
pretty, it is strange you never have any love affairs to 
tell us. Where are the men's eyes that they do not see 
how lovely you are?" 



192 MABEL GORDON 

And she smiled and said they showed good sense to 
pass her by for the others. 

*'Love is not for me," she said, "and I do not ex- 
pect it." 

"The idea of a girl so attractive as yourself believ- 
ing that ! It is unheard of," and Mabel smiled and said 
nothing to the exclamations of her friends. 

Once she thought life held love in abundance for 
her. When she waited for Allan how fair and prom- 
ising stretched the future before her, and after she had 
outgrown the bitter disappointment he caused and 
learned of a deeper, more lasting love, and believed 
that the years to come held joy unthought of before, 
came a blow that shattered every earthly hope. She 
thought of her old music teacher and her buried 
dream. She was not alone in her experience. 

For not many live who have not laid, 
With bleeding heart, some hope away, 

On which all happiness was stayed, 

From which came every brightening ray. 

Sad as her lot was, it was better than Eleanor's, 
she thought, for how could she bear to know she had 
helped to close those prison-like doors on any one? 
That was worse than to give up her lover to another 
woman worthy to be his w^ife. So far as Colonel Ches- 
ter's temporal happiness was concerned, she was satis- 
fied, but his eternal welfare lay on her heart, and 
daily she prayed for the noble man whom she believed 
the Savior must love, even as He looked upon the young 
ruler and loved him; and some day the portals of the 
heart, seemingly closed to the knock of the Stranger 
without, would swing open and a joyful welcome bo 
given the loving Guest. To think of him as being lost 
was too bitter, and earnestly she prayed, "Oh, God, 
whatever thou dost call upon me to suffer I will bear, 
but Spare him whom I loved. He must be saved. 



MABEL GORDON 193 

" 'Dear Lord, both he and I 

Are far from strong; 
To each of us be nigh; 

The way is lon'g. 
Perhaps he needs not me — 
Jesus, we both need thee; 

Make us more strong.' " 

Sometimes in thinking about him she felt that she 
would give her life to have his hands clasp hers in the 
old way and hear the full-toned voice murmur, "Ma- 
bel !" as he once called her. But there was sin in such 
thoughts, so she turned away from the sweet dream 
and sought her Helper, and peace came to the troubled 
heart, showing itself in the fair face and making her 
even more lovely, for sorrows rightly borne do bring 
out the beauty of the soul, and there is no other so 
lasting. 

Beauty of coloring will fade, and contour lost its 
symmetry, but a pure, devout spirit possesses a charm 
that never leaves. 



194 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



ee 



And hand to hand in greeting. 

The past, with all its fears, 

Its silence and its tears. 

Its lonely, yearning years. 
Shall vanish in the moment of the meeting." 

Long after Mabel had struggled into peace and 
comparative happiness, content to take up her burden 
and bear it patiently, as becomes one who believes the 
hereafter holds recompense for all suffering rightly 
endured during the earthly pilgrimage, there came a 
shock that almost stunned her. 

While waiting for an order from Madame, she 
picked up the paper and glanced over it, and her own 
name among the advertisements caught her attention, 
and she read : 

"Mabel, for the love of heaven, come to me. We 
fear our brother will die, and I need you. Come im- 
mediately." 

Mrs. Rowland in trouble and needing her! She 
mnust go ! It must be poor Louis who was dying. 
She said our brother. Perhaps Colonel Chester and 
his wife were out of the city. But if he was in the 
house she must go to her friend. So to Madame she 
went and told her that a very dear friend of hers was 
in trouble, had sent for her, and she would have to go. 

"You will come back soon ? I shall miss you," said 
Madame, "and your associates will want you," 



MABEL GORDON 195 

"I hate to leave you and them," the girl answered. 
"You have all been so kind to me." 

"Then prove that you like us by returning soon. 
Here are your wages, and I must say you have earned 
them," said Madame. 

Mabel thanked her, and turned to say good-bye to 
some of her friends. Then a few preparations and 
she was on her way to Mrs. Rowland. As she went 
up the broad steps she laid her hand caressingly on 
the couchant brazen lions. Everything was dear to 
her, and the flood of memories that rushed over her 
as she stood once more within the dear familiar room 
almost overpowered her. A strange servant answered 
her ring at the door and showed her in, taking her 
message to Mrs. Rowland that a lady wished to see 
her. She had dropped her veil, and as the lady came 
in she raised it, when Mrs. Rowland nearly fell. 

"Mabel !" she gasped. "Where did you come from 
and why have you stayed away so long?" 

"I came from Madame Dufour's," she said. "Dear 
Mrs. Rowland, will you not say you are glad to see 
me? I obeyed your summons immediately." 

"Glad ! Child, the word will not tell how I feel. 
I am overjoyed. Oh, Mabel, Rudolf searched and 
hunted everywhere for you, and when it all seemed in 
vain his health gave way, and he lies now at death's 
door." 

Colonel Chester dying! She had not once thought 
of death in connection with him. She pressed her 
hand to her heart, and with the other raised her hand- 
kerchief to her lips, for she could not speak then. 

Mrs. Rowland saw that she was very white. 

"You are sick, child," she said. "I will get you 
something." 

But Mabel shook her head. 

"I am only tired. Please go on and tell me of your 
trouble. I supposed 'twas Mr. Louis Chester of whom 



196 MABEL GORDON 

you spoke, and that possibly your brother was away 
and you needed me to help you." 

"I need you, yes; but Rudolf needs you more than 
I," said her friend. 

"Cannot his wife minister to him? I came to help 
you." 

"Mabel, he is not married, and has never loved any- 
one save you." 

"Not married!" exclaimed the girl. "Has all our 
suffering been for naught?" 

"Yes, dear, and the mistake has cost my poor boy 
almost his life. Dr. Warren says if anyone can help 
him it is you, and even you may be too late. The bit- 
ter disappointment, together with some low fever he 
has contracted, seems to sap his life. I will take you 
to him now, for every moment is precious ! When you 
have seen our dear one I will explain to you all about 
Elise, whom you will love. She already loves you. Be 
very careful, dear, for any violent excitement may be 
too much for him in his feeble state. Oh, Mabel, child, 
God in His mercy grant you have not come too late! 
My poor boy said if he were dying and you but called 
his name 'twould bring him back." 

Opening the door softly, she led the way into the 
sick man's chamber, Mabel following, her heart beat- 
ing almost to suffocation. The last time she saw him 
he was in full possession of his manly beauty and 
vigor, and now to see him there, so pale, so still, hardly 
a breath stirring. She thought he was dead, and, un- 
mindful of the nurse or Mrs. Rowland, she fell on 
her knees beside him. 

"Oh, my darling, my darling!" she exclaimed, "have 
I come too late? Rudolf, my love, my life, speak to 
me!" 

At the sound of the loved voice he opened his eyes 
and smiled faintly. She saw his lips move, and, lean- 
ing over him, caught the whispered : 



MABEL GORDON 197 

"Mabel, my own ! At last, at last ! Thank God !" 

She clasped her hands in an ecstacy of joy, the happy 
tears flowing down her face. 

"Oh, you said, 'Thank God !' Now, indeed, is my 
cup of happiness full! Dear Lord, I thank Thee!" 

And again she fell on her knees. They knew she 
was pouring out her heart in thanksgiving to her 
Savior, and Colonel Chester laid one thin hand on her 
head as she knelt. As she raised her radiant face and 
seated herself by him, she took his hand in both hers — 
that strong hand that had saved her from death twice, 
now so weak and thin. She held it to her mouth, kiss- 
ing it softly, Mrs. Rowland smiling, with brimming 
eyes, all the while. 

"Darling." said the sick man, "have you no kisses 
for my lips ?" 

Mrs. Rowland saw that she blushed and hesitated, 
so turned away, saying : 

"Remember, dear, how near we came to losing 
him." 

Then Mabel leaned over and pressed her warm, 
glowing lips to his in their first meeting. 

"I will live now," he said. "I have something to 
live for. You love me, Mabel, and 3^ou came with the 
sweet story. Dear, I am too weak to talk much, but 
you tell me all." 

"It is not possible to tell all," she said. "How I 
longed to see you after I found that love had come as 
3-ou said it would. I loved you then, but now that you 
acknowledge your Creator you are doubly dear. I 
must not talk much to you, but I will hold your pre- 
cious hand in mine and be near you, and when we can 
talk I will tell you all. Try to rest now, for Dr. War- 
ren will keep me out if you are worse when he comes." 

"I hear his step now," said Mrs. Rowland, as in he 
came and greeted Mabel joyously. 

"Well, Miss Prodigal," he said, "I am glad to see 



198 MABEL GORDON 

you in your proper place, but don't excite this chap or 
you might kill him, and you have come near enough to 
that already. A pretty route you have led us all, for 
at my time of life it is a serious thing to be hunting 
for runaway girls. Not only have you hurt Rudolf 
but you worried me considerably." 

"For which I humbly beg pardon," replied Mabel, 
smiling. "But, doctor, give yourself no uneasiness 
about my hurting your patient; he already looks bet- 
ter." 

The old man laid his fingers on Colonel Chester's 
wrist. 

"Hum, yes ; his pulse is fuller and his face brighter. 
Oh, he has the right physician now, so I can quit, and 
you, my lady, may give up everything to get him back 
to health. You've got something to live for now, eh, 
Rudolf?" 

Colonel Chester smiled in answer. 

"Yes, ma'am," the doctor continued, "you very 
nearly killed this boy, while his poor sister here has 
had enough trouble to finish silvering her fine hair, 
and if I had any worth speaking of to turn gray it 
w^ould be white. I shouldn't be surprised if my bald- 
ness w'as not in part attributable to your wild-goose 
flight." 

"I didn't fly southward, sir," said Mabel. 

"You didn't! Then where have you been all this 
time?" 

"In New York." 

"And Rudolf and I have hunted everywhere for 
you ! Well, you know how to hide. Now that you 
are found, pray stay in sight." 

"I suppose," she said smilingly, "you want to keep 
the few locks of hair you have left." 

"Yes; and more than all, I want to keep this fine 
fellow out of his grave." Then, dropping his light 



MABEL GORDON 199 

tone, "Ah, my child, you little know what he has suf- 
fered." 

"I see," she answered softly, "and, doctor, he is not 
alone in that." 

"Yes, child, we all know you have felt this, and you 
did what you believed right. You and Rudolf must 
never part again in this world." 

Colonel Chester looked at her and she leaned down. 
"You hear that," he said. "Never again shall you 
leave me." 

"I will not," she replied; "I am yours forever." 

"Now, Rudolf, I must talk sick room talk to you 
a while," interposed Dr. Warren. "Let this girl 
go and see Miss Elise and the other members of the 
household, then she can come back to you and take 
you into that place called by lovers 'paradise,' and 
which I advise you to stay in as long as possible. I 
have been in lover's 'paradise' myself once upon a 
time, old and bald as I am, and have not lost sympathy 
for poor, foolish folks." 

"Don't stay long," said Colonel Chester, as Mabel 
turned to go with Mrs. Rowland. 

"Elise is very anxious to see you," said the latter as 
they went in quest of the others, "and she can't imder- 
stand why one so loved could have left us as you did. 
We have never explained it as we believed it to be, 
for, being of the nature she is, it would have troubled 
her to death when she saw how grieved we were and 
how Rudolf sank under his sorrow." 

"She must never know," rejoined Mabel. "I was 
to blame in not trusting Colonel Chester more, but it 
was so hard to understand." 

"Yes, it puzzled me, too, and I didn't blame you 
after I guessed the cause of your flight. If you and 
Rudolf hadn't been so shy and still-tongued none of 
it would have occurred. He gave up entirely when 
his strength failed, and seemed to sink into an apathy 



200 MABEL GORDON 

that alarmed me, and then I advertised, hoping against 
hope that you might see it and come to me. Ah, 
IMabel, you hold his all in your keeping. Deal gently 
with him, dear." 

With brimming eyes the girl looked her friend in 
the face as she said : 

''His happiness is dearer tc me than my life. I 
speak to you, dear friend, as to my own precious 
mother, for you know everything now. I wish I had 
let Colonel Chester tell you sooner, but somehow I 
feel that all this has not been in vain. How know we 
but the sorrows he has known were heaven-sent? I 
prayed so earnestly for his salvation, and if God an- 
swered my prayer in this way I shall not murmur, 
even if in gaining what was asked He led me through 
deep waters. Both of us needed the trials we have 
had, else a merciful Providence had never sent them." 

"Rudolf believes so now, I think, and my heart re- 
joices more than words can tell. He says with you to 
help him he can be a good man." 

"And he so noble, so far above me! Ah, my heart 
bows in prayer for help from on high, that I may be 
an humble instrument in leading him onward and up- 
w^ard, since he looks to such a poor, frail creature as 
myself." 

"My dear," smiled Mrs. Rowland, "he looks upon 
you as the incarnation of all that is good and pure, 
and I bless the Lord that he has faith in you. Now 
we will see Elise." 

The young girls greeted each other pleasantly, and 
Elise said : 

"I haf much joy in welcoming you home, and hope 
you will not leaf us again. Our dear brother hass 
pined for you. Why did you go when he lofed you 
so much?" 

" 'Twas a misunderstanding, dear," said Mrs. Row- 
land, "but all is right now, and our brother will soon 



MABEL GORDON 201 

be well. Now, tell Mabel about yourself and how you 
came to meet Rudolf." 

So the girl talked in her pretty way to the eager lis- 
tener, and told her of how he had spoken of Miss Gor- 
don and the friends she and Elise were to be, "and 
when we came Miss Gordon was not here, and my 
kint brother hass worn himself away looking for her. 
She not going to leaf us any more, eh ?" 

"I'll answer for her," put in Mrs. Rowland. "No. 
We all need her, even to the servants. When have 
you heard, Mabel, from those dear home folks? Did 
they ever know of your flight?" 

"I kept that from them, and wrote as though with 
you, and when my letters came and mother sent kind 
messages to you, it was terrible to me not to be able 
to run and tell you. I will have to go to see them be- 
fore very long." 

"Not till you get our boy well and strong; then we 
will go. He is your patient now, and you must cure 
him," replied Mrs. Rowland. 

And he was her patient, wanting no other nurse near 
him, and content to have her sit and hold his hand, the 
very silence eloquent to both. When he grew stronger 
he told her of his anxiety to see her and his dismay 
at her flight; of his long, fruitless search, and bitter 
sorrow when he realized she was lost to him. 

She pitied him, then said : 

"And all that time I was suffering, too. But I had 
help you knew nothing of, for the faith you ridiculed 
when I first knew you enabled me to bear my trou- 
bles." 

"I beg your pardon for my rudeness and thank you 
for defending your faith as you did, for your fear- 
lessness impressed me then, and your purity and sin- 
cerity won upon me in a way I could not resist. When 
I was in my great trouble, hunting for you, I went where 
you were most likely to be found — the church — where 



203 MABEL GORDON 

T heard words that somehow comforted me, and gradu- 
ally my heart opened to the truth. Augusta said you 
prayed for me, and I could fancy you kneeling in 
prayer for me, and it did me good. Dear little girl, 
do you know Heaven sent you to me to be my salva- 
tion?" 

"Colonel Chester," she began, but he interrupted 
her with : 

"I beg pardon, but whom did you address then. 
If you spoke to me, I must tell you that I am Rudolf 
to you. Tell me, Mabel, when you first discovered you 
cared for me!" 

"Upon my return w4th Mrs. Rowland the last time 
we went home. I missed you so much and longed to 
see you." 

"Why did you not write me the sweet message? 
'Twould have been bliss to me." 

"I could not," she said, "and then I wanted to see 
you when you found out all." 

"Give me that box on my dressing table, please," 
he said. "I have something to show you." 

She gave it to him and he took therefrom the little 
purse he had treasured so long. 

"My poor little purse !" she exclaimed. "Have you 
kept it all this time?" 

"Yes, and treasured it ; there is something else here. 
Darling, how came this shining hair on the bosom of 
my gown?" 

She blushed, as she answered: 

"I stole into your room one day. I wanted to see 
you so very much, and seeing your gown I put my 
arms around it and laid my head on the breast, and 
that hair must have caught there." 

"To be kept for a ray of hope to me," he said. "I 
guessed that night that you loved me. Was it be- 
cause of your love you left? I deserved better treat- 
jnent from you." 



MABEL GORDON 203 

"I could not bear to stay and see another take my 
place," she said, very low, and with downcast eyes. 

"After telling you so often that a certain little hard- 
to-conquer-rebel-girl was the only person capable of 
filling that place, you could believe me so changeable?" 

"I believe in you now entirely," she answered, "but 
then you had no hope and were not to be blamed. 
After I saw you with Elise, and noticed her beauty, I 
fully believed she was your wife." 

"You saw me with Elise? Where were you?" 

"'Twas when Dr. Blank lectured. I was so close 
to you once I could have touched you." 

"And you were that near and let me pass on, when 
my heart was hungering for you. Mabel, you were 
cruel !" he exclaimed. 

"Remember, I believed you married, and no good 
could have come of speaking." 

"What a 'Comedy of Errors' we have had," he said. 
"Well, thank Heaven all that is over." 



204: MABEL CORDON 



CHAPTER XXV. 

As Colonel Chester gained strength. Dr. War- 
ren recommended a daily drive in the balmy air and 
life-giving sunshine, saying to him : 

"John will drive carefully, and Miss- Gordon can go 
with you." 

"Will you ride with me?" asked the invalid, smil- 
ing. "You refused once, you know." 

"The circumstances were very different," she replied. 
"I will go now, with pleasure. Shall not Elise accom- 
pany us?" 

"Not yet, please," he said, and Dr. Warren drew 
down his face comically at the reply and Mabel's 
blush. 

During one of their rides they passed where a house 
had been burned, and Mabel said : 

"I never see such ruins but a feeling of sadness 
comes over me, and I think of my own lost home." 

Her companion's thin cheek burned, and he turned 
to her, saying: 

"Mabel, I have a confession to make to you. / had 
your home burned, and no act of my life has been more 
bitterly repented. Every allusion you have made to 
it went like a dagger to my heart, and I would give 
anything to undo that hasty act. I repented before 
you came, and, after knowing and loving you, it has 
been a horrible memory to me, while I wanted to con- 
fess it all this time but had not courage." 

"I have known it from the first of my stay here, 
even before meeting you," she answered quietly. "I 
heard you tell your sister about it when I unintention- 
ally listened to a conversation between you." 

"And that is why you refused me so often when I 
offered my love?" said he. 



MABEL GORDON 205 

"Your infidelity and that act," she said. "I did feel 
bitter toward you a long time, but your kindness and 
nobility won me at last. Besides, I thought if God 
could pardon the way you treated his dear Son, I, a 
sinner, too, might forgive a fellow-one for making 
us homeless." 

"Let me give you another home," he begged; "it 
shall be as pretty as the one I destroyed, and I'll try 
to make you forget the sad scene, and also to win your 
parents' regard." 

"My parents know nothing of the part you played 
in their lives. They think you a good man for saving 
me as you did. Father preferred my marrying at 
home, but I think he will be satisfied now that he 
knows you." 

"Are you?" he asked. 

"Perfectly," she said. "You had but one fault in 
my eyes and that is gone." 

He raised her hand to his lips. 

"Dear, pure-hearted child," he said, "God deal 
with me as I do with your trust. Oh, Mabel, you can 
never know how you fill my heart." 

One day, some time after the ride, as Colonel Ches- 
ter w^as reclining upon a sofa in Mrs. Rowland's 
boudoir, lazily enjoying the society of the ladies, Mrs. 
Rowland said to him : 

"Rudolf, since you can't bear Mabel out of your 
sight why not be married at once?" 

The color surged over Mabel's face, Elise laughed 
softly, and Colonel Chester smiled, as he answered : 

"I guess of all present I am the most anxious for 
that, but I have enough vanity to want to be a decent 
looking groom, and not the pale, cadaverous looking 
creature I am now, when our marriage takes place. 
Besides, I want it to come off in the church she and I 
went to first, and by that old minister. What do you 
say, Mabel?" 

"I thought," she said, blushing, and speaking shyly. 



206 MABEL GORDON 

"that I would be married in my dear old home if I 
ever wedded at all. I wanted my homefolks present." 

"Well, we can send for Father and Mother Gordon 
to come here," he said. 

"But there are the others," she suggested. 

"They will have to get along without seeing us. 
I just can't let you leave me any more," he declared. 
"Augusta, you get to work looking up pretty things, 
and get the softest, whitest, silkiest dress to be found, 
and a long veil." 

"Stick to your law books, Rudolf, and keep out of 
our province," advised his sister. "I'll get something 
pretty enough to please you, and will enjoy the get- 
ting. I was denied the pleasure of seeing my other 
dear boy made happy, and to witness your joy gives 
me great pleasure. It is time we were at work, Mabel. 
Don't blush so, child; you are fulfilling the fate of 
nearly all girls." 

Amid the laughter of all, Mabel escaped from the 
room. 

When Mrs. Rowland mentioned it again she said : 

"I would like to get my things from Madame Du- 
four, if you do not care." 

"Certainly, child, if you wish," was the reply. So 
the girls and Airs. Rowland started out on the mission 
about which the lover was growing impatient. 

Madame gave Mabel a warm welcome. 

"You have stayed long," she said, "and we missed 
you." 

"I have not come back to stay now," said the girl. 
"We have come to get you to prepare an outfit 
for me." 

"Ah!" said the woman, quickly; "so the friend in 
trouble was a lover. Yes, child, it will give me pleas- 
ure to arrange your trousseau, and it shall be perfect 
in fit and style." 

"Tell her, Mabel," interposed Mrs. Rowland, "what 
Rudolf says the dress must be." 



'MABEL GORDON 207 

"Are you related to Mabel?" inquired Aladame. 

"I am her friend, and the sister of the gentleman 
she will marry," Mrs. Rowland replied. 

"Might 1 ask his name?" 

"Colonel Rudolf Chester." 

"Indeed ! I certainly congratulate you, Mabel. You 
quiet thing! Little did I think of such as this when 
you were here. Colonel Chester's sweetheart in my 
employ! Well, well !" 

"You know him, then," said Mabel. 

"He is my lawyer when I need one, and a kind 
friend besides. Tell him I wall indeed make you a 
beautiful dress. I wish I had known it when you were 
here. And now," turning to Elise, "when shall we do 
this for you ?" 

"I haf no lofer," answered the girl, and Mrs. Row- 
land added, "I shall keep her in Mabel's place." 

As they neared home on their return, whom should 
they meet but Allan Harvey, whose face lighted joy- 
fully at sight of Mabel. He spoke courteously to 
Mrs. Rowland, bowed low to Elise when presented to 
her, but his hand closed warmly over Mabel's, who 
was heartily glad to see him, and seeing her gladness 
and knowing he was associated with her home, J\Irs. 
Rowland said : 

"I am going to treat you as ]\Irs. Gordon would 
were you at her door. Come in and be one of us at 
dinner, and talk to Mabel about those dear people you 
knew." 

He looked at Mabel. 

"Do come," she said. "Oh, it seems so good to 
meet someone I knew long ago." 

"Thank you both," he said. "I shall accept your 
kindness gladly, for I wanted to see you all, and then 
I am now a kind of floating atom of humanity," 

"Your wife?" asked Mabel gently. 

"Is dead," he answered. "She died in Italy six 
months ago." 



208 MABEL GORDON 

They went into the house and Mabel left him with 
Elise, whose blue eyes filled with pity when he spoke, 
while she flew to speak to Colonel Chester and tell 
him that her old friend had called. He grumbled a 
little to give her up to anyone else then, but she 
Inughingly told him when all her life was to be spent 
with him, he might spare an old friend a few hours. 

Of course Mabel and Allan were left to talk over 
their loved topics, and during the conversation he 
told her of Lucile's death, and his loneliness. 

"I came," he said, "hoping to find you free, and to 
try to win you, but Miss Chester told me you were 
out to-day purchasing the trousseau for your marriage 
with Colonel Chester. I am disappointed, but not sur- 
prised, as I believe you and he will suit. Well, again 
I am too late." 

His tone and patient, sad smile touched her. 

"Don't let it grieve you, please. I can tell you of 
one far better suited to you than I ever can be. Elise 
would make you happy." 

"She is a lovely girl," he said, "but don't tell me to 
go to anyone else till I can somewhat conquer all I 
feel. Perhaps in time I Avill go to some one for con- 
solation. Let me call on you, won't you, and talk of 
'long ago, when you and I were young,' and such sor- 
row as has since come was unthought of. Ah, Mab, 
if those days could only be recalled." 

"Nay !" 'she said, "these are better." 

"To you who love and are loved it may be so, but 
to me who meet with disappointment all the time it 
is impossible to think so." 

His tone was hopeless, but Mabel knew him too 
well to believe his life ruined, so she quietly led him 
away from his griefs and left him with the gentle 
Elise till she saw that he could brighten. When she 
saw Colonel Chester again, he was all upset. 

"What has clouded your brow, most noble sir?" 
ghe asked. 



MABEL GORDON 209 

"Read this," he said, handing her a letter, "and you 
will know." 

It was a letter from her father, answering Colonel 
Chester's request for his consent to his marriage to 
Mabel. It was very courteous, but he firmly said his 
daughter must wed among her countrymen, and he 
couldn't consent to the marriage. Her lover watched 
her anxiously while she read, and when she finished 
said: 

"You see what he says. Will it make any differ- 
ence to you if he can't be persuaded to give his con- 
sent?" 

"Certainly, if I thought he couldn't be won from his 
standpoint," she answered. 

"And the cup of happiness so near my lips is to be 
dashed away. Fool that I was to think there was 
aught of joy for me on earth," said he bitterly. 

"Please be calm," she said. "You will be ill again 
if you worry in this way. Just be patient and I will 
write mother and tell her how you suffered, and how 
my life is bound up in yours, and all will be well, I 
believe it would be best for me to go home." 

"And leave me here to endure the tedium of con- 
valescence without you! I couldn't bear it. I can't 
let you go away. You might never return, and then 
the long, dismal years that I would have to pass alone ! 
Oh, I can't let you go." 

"Be quiet," she said. "I won't go. I'll write to 
mother and she will plead for you. You must be calm 
while you are so feeble. Remember your brother's 
sad fate and try to control yourself." 

"Dearest," he said, "in everything else I am cool 
and calm, but I have suffered so much through you it 
is hard to control my emotions. When the tension of 
dread is over I will be calm." 

"Exhausted," she said. "I am afraid the ardent 
lover may become the indifferent husband." 



210 MABEL GORDON 

"If I ever become indifferent to you," he said, "then 
my claim as a husband will end." 

"It certainly will," she replied, "for I will not yield 
homage to indifference, sacredly as I hold marriage." 

"You have no fears regarding me?" he asked. 

"None. I trust you entirely, but don't promise too 
much beforehand," she cautioned. 

"Don't talk so, Mabel," he said. "Let me stay in 
a fool's paradise as long as I can." 

"Dear," she said, "if 'twas in my power to make 
this earth paradise to you it would be done, and if my 
love can make it seem so to you rest assured you 
have it. Did I tell you what Allan said Mammy had 
to say of me when he last saw her ? She is as fond as 
ever of scripture quotations, and compared me to the 
Queen of Sheba, whose beauty, she declared, 'done 
'stonish ole King Solomon de time he went ter see her 
an' tuck all dem fine tings, an' my chile gwine 'sprise 
sum big pusson up Norf yit !' " 

He laughed as she told him, and said : 

"The old woman knew what she was talking about. 
You have surprised one, and the more you reveal of 
your character to me the more I admire you. Tell 
me, Mabel, did you not care very much for Allan long 
ago?" 

"Yes," she answered frankly, "but that was an 
ephemeral fancy compared to what I feel for you ; as 
a brook might be to the resistless river. Think no 
more of it, for it was over long since, and he is only 
my friend now. I hope he will become attached to 
Elise." 

"You want him in the family, then, so you can see 
him often. It is well that I trust you so entirely," he 
said, smiling. 

She smiled up in his face and answered: 

" 'Perfect love casteth out fear,' you know, and 
could ours be improved upon!" 



MABEL GORDON 211 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

After what seemed a long time to the impatient 
lover, more letters came from Mabel's parents. 

Mrs. Gordon wrote a tender, sympathetic letter, say- 
ing that while she preferred her daughter marrying 
near her, yet she was sure she could not fall into 
safer hands. 

Mr. Gordon consented reluctantly. He remembered 
gratefully all Colonel Chester did for him when Wil- 
lie's life hung in the balance, but he didn't want a son- 
in-law from among those who had a hand in putting 
the country in such a state. And when he was told of 
the way he saved Mabel's life, he said if she'd been at 
home none of it would have happened. As for Mrs. 
Rowland's generosity, she had the pleasure of his 
child's society, and, besides, it was merely returning 
a small part of what they had lost. Willie and Nellie 
put in a plea for the marriage, and when Mr. Gordon 
found them all against him he yielded. But the Colo- 
nel could keep his money and he would stay at home; 
if his house was too humble for them to be married 
in they might carry on their grand doings without 
him to witness them. So he wrote that Mabel was of 
age, and if she chose to marry him he had nothing to 
say. That he wanted to repay him for his services in 
Willie's trial, but preferred a pecuniary settlement. 

Colonel Chester smiled as he read it. "The old 
gentleman certainly belongs to the old South," said 
he. "It is well for me that Mabel is reconstructed, 
and that gentle mother comes in as she does. I must 
hurry up matters, for fresh obstacles constantly arise," 



312 MABEL GORDON 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

As Mabel was sitting in Mrs. Rowland's private 
parlor engaged in some fancy work while her lover 
read to her, his sister came in, dressed as for a drive. 

"Been out riding, Augusta?" asked the gentleman. 

"Yes; Elise and I have been to see Louis, and he 
seems to be doing finely; indeed, the superintendent 
says he is well and might come home to stay." 

"We tried that once," was the rejoinder, "and it 
came near costing us dear." 

"I know," answered the lady, "and I shudder when- 
ever I think of it." 

"Wait till I am recovered," said her brother, "and 
then we'll take the boy home." 

"You are gaining strength fast," said Mabel. 

"Yes," said he, "but I'm not able to cope with a 
madman." 

"Another thing I have to tell you, Rudolf," con- 
tinued his sister. "You know Eleanor's husband has 
been dead some time. Well, she's been to see Louis, 
and he told me of her kindness." 

"And he thought her kind ! Poor simpleton, to let 
her ruin his life, and now come about him with her 
pretended regard," and Colonel Chester's face ex- 
pressed the scorn he felt. 

"You are too hard on her," said his sister. "Mabel, 
can't you soften Rudolf's feelings toward Eleanor?" 

"I have tried," replied the girl, "but he seems im- 
placable, and I think, considering all for which he hns 
received pardon, he might forgive a frail woman w b.o 
has suffered as she must have done." 

Colonel Chester's face reddened as he answered: 



MABEL GORDON 313 

"I am rebuked, but I can't exculpate Eleanor as you 
two do. She might have been true to Louis had she 
chosen." 

"We can always see the act," rejoined Mabel, "while 
the motive is unseen, as are the many reasons conspir- 
ing to cause it, hence we are not able to judge, and 
somewhere — do you know where — we are told to judge 
not lest we be judged. I think Mrs. Heath endured 
enough, knowing she had helped to ruin your 
brother's life. 

"You are right, dear," said Mrs. Rowland, "and 
it must be your task to win Rudolf from his way of 
thinking. I have tried in vain." 

"If Louis is ever the man he once was then I'll 
forgive Eleanor, and till then not even Mabel can 
change my feelings," declared the gentleman. 

"So somebody besides a Gordon can be unforgiv- 
ing," said Mabel slyly. "Ah, Colonel Chester, unless 
you have done right always you can't afford your 
present position." 

Again he colored, but made no reply, so the subject 
dropped there. Mabel suggested that Mrs. Rowland 
call on Mrs. Heath and let her see she appreciated her 
conduct, so the lady did, and there were tears in the 
eyes of both when they met. 

Mrs. Rowland thanked her for going to see Louis, 
and told her what the superintendent said of his con- 
dition, but that Rudolf feared to take him home then 
as the other trial came near costing too dear. 

"I am not afraid of him," said Mrs. Heath, quietly, 
"and if he will accept it, my home is open to him." 

"Do you mean," asked her visitor, "that you would 
take my poor boy as he is." 

"I do," said the other. "You can't know how I feel 
toward him. You know I unwillingly aided in putting 
l;im where he is, and if I can help in his restoration I 
shall thank Heaven for the means of so doing." 



2U MABEL GORDON 

"Eleanor," exclaimed her friend, "you are a noble 



woman." 



"Thank yon," replied Mrs. Heath. "I hope to prove 
iliat I am not the heartless being I've seemed to be. 
I understand Colonel Chester does not think as you 
do, and I can't blame him, for he doesn't know all 
that was brought to bear upon me. He only knew his 
brother's side, and it was natural he should feel bitter 
toward me. If he knew all I've endured in these 
years he surely would change." 

"So Mabel and I tell him," put in her caller. 

"I regretted," went on the other, "more than I can 
tell, the effect upon him. It was bad enough to lose 
faith in womankind, but to cause him to mock at re- 
ligion was inexpressibly painful to me." 

"He has changed," said Mrs. Rowland. 

"I hoped he would when I saw him at church with 
that lovely girl. My heart rejoiced and I prayed ear- 
nestly for him. Is it true he is going to marry her?" 

"Yes," replied Mrs. Rowland, "and I am so glad, 
for her influence over him is wonderful. She is sin- 
gularly good and true, and her pure life and childlike 
faith have accomplished that which no divine could 
have done with the strongest argument. A holy life 
is the most powerful proof of the truth of God's 
word." 

"I rejoice that he has changed." said Mrs. Heath. 

"No one knows," Mrs. Rowland went on, "what a 
burden I've carried because of my boys, and my heart 
is full of joy and gratitude that the cloud is lifting 
from their lives, and their prospects seem bright." 

"I share your joy." said Eleanor, "for I have been 
sorely grieved about them." 

"Of the two I think yours was the heavier burden," 
said her friend. "I felt for you. as has Mabel also. 
She has been your friend throughout." 



MABEL GORDON 215 

"For which," repHed Eleanor, "please give her my 
thanks and tell her I long to know her." 

"Will you not come to see us?" asked Mrs. Row- 
land. 

"Pardon me, but that is impossible until Colonel 
Chester's dislike of me is overcome," said Mrs. Heath. 

"And so all the visiting must be done by me, I sup- 
pose," returned Mrs. Rowland, smiling. 

From Mrs. Heath she went to see Louis and found 
that he was improving all the time. The superintend- 
ent said he was a different man since Mrs. Heath's 
visit, and if she were willing he would be glad to put 
]Mr. Chester in her care. His madness had been partly 
due to a wound received in the war, and a recent oper- 
ation relieved that. The crushing disappointment 
threw him off his balance, but now^ he was well in mind 
and body. 

When Mrs. Rowland spoke of Eleanor to Louis his 
face lighted, and he told of her kindness to him. His 
sister suggested he might yet win her, but he smiled 
sadly. 

"I could not ask her," said he, "to link her life to 
such a wreck as L She is too young and lovely for 
a fate like that." 

When he heard of her resolve to devote herself to 
him he broke down and cried. 

"She is too good for me," he said, "and I can't allow 
her to sacrifice herself thus." 

"It is her choice, brother, and it would be cruel to 
deny her the pleasure of making amends for what she 
unwillingly caused. You love her, I see, and she cares 
only for you." 

"It shall be as she pleases," he replied. "Augusta, 
if ever a man had cause to love a woman I have cause 
to love her, and if Rudolf knew her as I do he would 
love her. If he cares for me as he did once he would 
be fond of her for my sake. His Mabel is dear to me 



216 MABEL GORDON 

because of him. Sister, your boys have been great 
sources of trouble to you; but it is over, I believe, 
thank God." 

"I trust it is," said his sister, "and I believe the 
happiness is greater than if no sorrow had been ours. 
I will come again soon, my boy, and I hope to see your 
joy complete. With Eleanor to care for you I shall be ^ 
satisfied." 

Home went Mrs. Rowland with a light heart. At 
last her boys wxre to be blest by the companionship of 
women who would help them bear the trials of this 
life, and lead them on to a higher one. Little did she 
think when she met, seemingly by chance, the girl 
trudging bravely along the dusty road that an influence 
was coming into their lives through her which would 
last through eternity — that the brilliant, cynical, in- 
fidel would some day bow before the purity and sin- 
cerity of the earnest young girl. The gentle mother 
in training the child given to her care had not thought 
of the power for good she wielded when she sowed the 
seeds of truth and love, and taught her the simple 
faith that could withstand repeated trials. Mammy 
predicted she would some time do wonders. 

"She bawn good, an' she bin trabblin' de straight 
way eber sence," she declared. "She gwine keep on 
growin' in grace 'n flourishin' lak ur green bay tree."' 



MABEL GORDON 217 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

When Mabel knew how Mrs. Heath expressed 
herself in regard to Louis she said: 

**I will tell your brother of her noble conduct, and 
his feelings certainly will change. He is too noble 
himself to withhold the meed of love and admiration 
due her. I'm glad you went to see her." 

"I knew you would sympathize with her," said Mrs. 
Rowland, "and she deserves all your praise. If she 
and Louis do conclude to be married would it not be 
nice for yours with Rudolf to come off at the same 
time? Where is he now?" 

"At his office," replied the girl. Elise and I were to 
drive down for him, and we also have to go to Mad- 
ame's." 

"Be off, then, and dress for your ride. I know Ru- 
dolf isn't thinking of law when he is expecting you," 
said the lady, smiling. 

When the girls appeared she looked with fond pride 
upon them. Elise, with her dazzlingly fair skin, 
blonde hair and clear blue eyes, and Mabel with her 
gold-brown curls, complexion of velvety softness, and 
dark, unfathomable eyes, with their long lashes, 
made as pretty a picture as she cared to see, and so 
thought Colonel Chester as he met them. 

"You are tardy, young ladies," said he, as he seated 
himself in the carriage. "What detained you?" 

Elsie glanced at Mabel and laughed. 

"We haf to go and see some work at the Madame's," 
she said. 

"Are you having dresses made, little sister?" he 
asked. 



218 MABEL GORDON 

"I wass not seeing my dress made just now," replied 
Elise, again smiling. 

"Ah," said he, "then it must be this young lady. I 
am an admirer of pretty gowns. May I not see these?" 

"They are not for you to see," responded Mabel. 

"Not for me to see," he exclaimed; "pray tell me, 
then, for whom they are intended ?" 

"I sha'n't answer your question," retorted the girl. 

"Don't," said he. "Just be quiet and let me look 
at you. A little pout becomes her, eh, Elise?" 

Reaching the house Mabel said to him : 

"Come with me to the library; I have something 
to say to you." 

His face became grave and he followed her into the 
room and seated himself opposite her. She saw his 
anxious expression and smiled, saying: 

"Don't be alarmed." 

"I felt a little worried," he said, "lest that unrecon- 
structed father of yours might have raised some new 
objections to his future son-in-law." 

"No," she said, "he has said no more. I wish so 
much he and mother would come to see us. You have 
no idea how it troubles me." 

"I know it, dear," he said, "and you shall see that I 
appreciate the sacrifice you are making for me. Mabel, 
please hurry up the preparations, and let me soon 
claim you as my very own, and then the wife shall feel 
that she is all the world to her husband." 

"We will speak of that directly," she answered. 
"Now hear me," and she proceeded to tell him 
Eleanor's resolve and her devotion to Louis. 

He listened closely, and when she finished, said : 

"It seems that I have misjudged a good woman, 
and all that I can do to make amends will be done. 
T am overjoyed to know that at last poor Louis is to 
realize his dream of happiness, and I'll beg his sweet- 
heart to forgive me for believing evil of her all this 



MABEL GORDON 219 

time. Appearances won't do to judge by. You were 
right in her case. Mabel, I believe now in an over- 
ruling Providence, and you were undoubtedly sent to 
me, through it took you a long time to find it out, but 
since you have recognized the fact you make me happy 
enough to let all the suffering go. You are " 

"Hush," she said, laying her hand on his mouth, 
"you are too much of a flatterer." 

He pressed a kiss on her hand, then drew a box 
from his pocket, and opening it slipped a sparkling 
ring on her finger. 

"There now," said he, "you are fettered. I or- 
dered this ring made for you and it came to-day. I 
have another for the occasion — a plain band of gold. 
Do you like this ring, love?" 

"It is beautiful," she said. "What perfect taste 
you have." 

"I think so," he returned, "especially in choosing a 
wife." 

"Your nonsense has begun again," she said. "Let 
us go to Mrs. Rowland and tell her that you are ready 
to receive Eleanor as a sister. Come." 

He rose slowly. 

"Little tyrant," said he, "you rule me completely." 

"Your time is coming," she said, laughing. 

Drawing her hand through his arm he walked on, 
saying : 

"I won your love by patient waiting, and, maybe, 
by biding my time I may gain control of you, but be- 
cause of your superiority in using your tongue I am 
afraid you'll always be 'speaker of the house.' " 

"And to reward you for that gallant speech I shall 
not see you after tea. Elise will have to entertain your 
highness." 

"Why such severity? Can't I atone for my rude- 
ness?" he asked. 

"I have letters to write home," she replied. "Now 



220 MABEL GORDON 

make your good sister happy by telling her that you 
feel as you should toward Eleanor." 

He readily acknowledged his wrong, and as soon 
as possible went to see Louis, and while there Mrs. 
Heath came. Seeing Colonel Chester, she colored and 
hesitated to enter, but he rose and met her, holding 
out his hand and saying : 

"I am glad to see you and to assure you of my friend- 
ship. I ask pardon for judging you so unkindly. For 
Louis' sake forgive me and let us be friends." 

"I will," she said frankly, ''and I do not blame you." 

"You are most kind," he said, "and you make me 
ashamed of myself for holding the feelings I did." 

"That is all gone," she said, "and we will think of 
it no more." 

Then turning to Louis she asked tenderly : 

"How are you feeling to-day ?" 

"Quite well," he answered, "and very happy. Au- 
gusta brought me such good news from you when she 
came last." 

Colonel Chester walked to a window and stood look- 
ing out as though he heard not a w-ord. 

Mrs. Heath blushed, and Louis said softly : 

"Is it true, Eleanor, that you are willing to devote 
your life, young, lovely and rich, as you are, to one 
so near a wreck as I ?" 

"Yes," she said, "for unwillingly I helped to cause 
your condition and I want to make amends if I can." 

"Is that all ?" he asked. "For feeble as I am, I want 
no woman, simply because she pities me, to join her 
life to mine. Do you love me, Eleanor?" 

"Yes, Louis. My only happiness is in being near 
you and trying to make you happy," she answered 
softly. 

"And you will be my w^ife, at last?" 

"Yes, Louis," she said simply. 

"Thank God!" he exclaimed, the tears standing in 



MABEL GORDON 231 ■ 

his eyes. He folded her reverently in his arms a mo- 
ment, then led her to his brother. 

"Rudolf," said he, "wish me jo)^ Eleanor has said 
she will be mine — my wife." 

Colonel Chester cleared his throat before speaking, 
and clasped his brother's hand as he said : 

"From the bottom of my heart, too, I wish yon joy, 
and welcome your Eleanor gladly as my sister. Now, 
let me ask right here if we can't both be made happy 
men at the same time?" 

"I have been so long shut out from the sight of the 
public that I shrink from people," answered Louis. "If 
Eleanor prefers it, though, I will try to overcome my 
dread." 

"No," she said, "it shall be as you wish." 

"We intended," said Colonel Chester, "having our 
marriage in church." 

"Let yours be there, then, and we will attend and 
rejoice thereat. Afterwards ours can take place and all 
be together at your house. You have not the dread of 
being looked at that I have, brother. It is known gen- 
erally that I have been here, and would be the cause of 
much curiosity," said Louis. 

"You will get over your feelings after a time," said 
Colonel Chester. "When you are married you must 
go away quite a while, and by the time you return you 
will be accustomed to people." 

"You will go with me, Louis?" asked Mrs. Heath, 
and he answered: 

"Anywhere with you, dear." 

"And now, brother, as you have company far better 
suited to your present state of mind and heart that I 
can be, I will leave you. Mrs. Heath, I thank you for 
what you are doing for our dear boy, and for us all," 
said Colonel Chester, as he took his leave. 

Remembering how Mabel once fared, he felt a little 
uneasiness about Mrs. Heath, and so expressed himself 



223 MABEL GORDON 

to the superintendent, but the latter reassured him by- 
saying : 

"There is no danger, sir. He is perfectly well, and 
the lady has complete control of him, for he loves her 
with all his heart." 

So Colonel Chester drove home to tell his sister and 
Mabel of the meeting between himself and Eleanor, 
and of Louis' happiness, then on to his office, for he had 
resumed work and was arranging his business so that 
he might take a tour with his bride to her dear home. 

He wondered how Mr. Gordon would receive him, 
and he could not blame the old man for feeling as he 
did. 

"I would hate any man who could wantonly destroy 
my home," he thought. "How time changes every- 
thing ! Little then did I think that my entire happiness 
would ever depend on one of that trembling group. I 
see where Mabel got her implacability from. She is 
undoubtedly a daughter of old man Gordon, but the 
gentle mother comes in, and it is well for me." 

His thoughts were so full of Mabel, it was hard to 
keep them on the dry law case. 

*^And the lawyers smiled that afternoon 
As he hummed in court an old love tune.'* 

It was hard to realize that the cool, collected lawyer, 
who at thirty-four boasted he knew nothing of love, 
and the glowing, impassioned lover were the same man. 
He was an object of astonishment to himself when he 
thought of the great change wrought in him by the 
earnest, pure-hearted girl — the child who came into his 
life so quietly, and in spite of his sneers held on to her 
faith, compelling the cold sceptic to yield to her gentle 
influence. 



MABEL GORDON 223 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

At last the day arrived, and all save the bride-elect 
seemed very happy. She was sad because the beloved 
parents could not witness an event of such solemn mo- 
ment to her as her marriage. That afternoon as she 
was alone in her room the door opened softly, and, 
turning to see the intruder, Mabel exclaimed : 

"Mother ! Oh, when did you come ?" and was folded 
to that mother's breast to weep tears of joy. "Where 
is father?" she asked. "Why didn't he come?" 

"I left him at home," answered the mother. "He is 
anxious to see you and he will welcome your husband, 
to whom we all owe so much, but I couldn't get him to 
come." 

"Have you seen Colonel Chester ?" next queried Ma- 
bel. 

"He met me at the station," said Mrs. Gordon. "I 
wrote him not to tell you I would try to be here, lest 
you might be disappointed. I don't wonder Willie 
thinks of him what he does, and that you love him. 
Your father, too, will yet love him as a son. Don't let 
his absence sadden you, my darling; you have been 
such a faithful daughter all will work out for your hap- 
piness. All your people are waiting impatiently to 
have you with them." 

There were many questions to be asked and an- 
swered and the time flew by to both. Later Mrs. Row- 
land entered the room. 

"Not dressed yet, Mabel !" she exclaimed. "Your 
maid has been slow. Rudolf will tire himself out if you 
don't soon put in your appearance. He insists on see- 



224 MABEL GORDON 

ing you before we start for the church, and the hour is 
not far off." 

"You will have to excuse my tardiness," said Mabel, 
smiling. "I was so overjoyed at mother's coming. I 
know now why you and Elise were smiling so much 
to-day." 

"Yes, it was hard to keep our pleasant secret from 
you," said the lady. "I am very glad your mother 
came. Mrs. Gordon, this child was trying to keep from 
us how she grieved over the absence of her parents. 
She wanted to go back to her own dear home, but we 
just couldn't let her do so, and I'm sure you will ap- 
prove when you know all. Let me say, also, that when 
you trained this girl you were preparing a blessing for 
us." 

"If the Lord has let my child do any good I am 
thankful," replied the mother, "and it is peculiarly 
pleasing to know she can add to the happiness of one 
to whose efforts in behalf of my son we owe much." 

"Rudolf felt that he was indebted to you," said Mrs. 
Rowland, "and he was." 

Just then Elise appeared, holding a casket. 

"Look, Mabel," she said; "I bring you this from 
your lover, and he bids me say that he doesn't wonder 
at your joy, but please remember him in your happi- 
ness." 

Mabel opened the box and took therefrom the gleam- 
ing gift, and with a low cry of delight turned to her 
mother. 

"See," she said, "how lovely ! Is he not too good to 
me, and am I not a happy girl to have such kindly 
thought given me?" 

"Save your rapture for Rudolf," said Mrs. Row- 
land, smiling fondly, "and be still till I arrange your 
veil and put on the jewels. This throat needs no orna- 
ment, but that love-crazed man wants everything for 
you, and he has suffered enough to have his way now. 



MABEL GORDON 225 

Take a good look in this mirror, then go and see what 
your future lord wants, while Mrs. Gordon finishes her 
toilette. The bride's mother must look her best." 

"One last kiss, please, mother, and I'll go," said 
Mabel, "and one from you, my other mother. Was 
ever a girl so blest as I ?" 

"Was ever one more deserving?" asked her mother, 
and Mrs. Rowland answered : 

"No." 

Colonel Chester was standing in the spacious par- 
lor looking faultlessly elegant and radiantly happy. 
As Mabel seemed to float into the room he met her 
quickly and led her where the light from the chande- 
lier fell full upon her. 

"Perfect," he pronounced, "from the veil to slip- 
pers, but you look so ethereal I am almost afraid to 
touch you. A bride adorned for her husband, and 
beautiful to see, but, fair as the body is, the spirit is 
far lovelier. Ah, Mabel, I know there is no happier 
man than I in all the world." 

The eyes raised to him were full of earnestness as 
she replied : 

"May you never have cause to feel otherwise. Oh, 
Rudolf, I fairly sickened when I heard of the case you 
took this week. I thought, what if he should ever 
find life with me intolerable, and I have almost wearied 
heaven with my prayers that I may be a blessing to 
you." 

"Never think of yourself and that woman at the 
same time," he said, "but I pity her more than I 
blame. Entrusted from birth to the care of hirelings, 
no high principles were ever implanted or cultivated 
in her — the claims of her Creator never taught her — 
she grew up selfish, vain, wholly given over to the 
pleasures of the world, from which her mother had 
vainly tried to extract happiness. Is it any wonder 
her marriage should end disastrously ? You were for- 



22G MABEL GORDON 

tunate in having a mother who looked upon children 
as a solemn, precious trust, not to be delegated to 
others, however efficient, as long as she had strength to 
discharge her duties. And I am a fortunate man to 
win for my wife one with such an inheritance and 
training. Now, tell me, sweet, if you are satisfied 
with me?" 

"Can you doubt that?" she asked. "I wondered 
wdiat there was in me to win such a man as yourself." 

He smiled as he drew her nearer, and answered : 

" '' 'Tzvas thy high purity of thought. 
Thy soul-rcvcaling eye, 
That placed me spellbound at thy feet; 
Sweet zvanderer from the sky,' 

and you look like a veritable wanderer from the sky 
in all this misty white. Did you like my gift?" 

"It is perfectly beautiful," she replied, "and you 
were so kind to give me such jewels." 

"You are bringing me that whose price is far above 
rubies," said he, "but," smiling brightly, "I want a 
necklace, too. of the kind no money can buy." 

He bent his head, and two white arms, whose beauty 
he had often admired, stole timidly round his neck 
while his lips sought hers in the last kiss she would 
receive as Mabel Gordon. 

The marriage of Colonel Chester, woman hater and 
cynic, was an interesting event in his world. There 
was a general desire to see the person capable of win- 
ning him, and when they saw the graceful girl and 
noted the pure beauty of her face, when he took upon 
himself the solemn vows of marriage, the decision was 
that she was fitted to adorn the high position which 
as his wife she would hold. 

Dr. Warren was delighted to give the bride 
aw^ay, for he knew how faithfully the lover served to 
gain his prize, and what a prize he had secured. 



MABEL GORDON 227 

From the church the bridal party went to Mrs. 
Heath's, where she and Louis were quietly married, 
and then to Colonel Chester's house. While Eleanor 
had not Mabel's fresh beauty, yet she was a very 
handsome woman, and to the quiet man whose life had 
been so long solitary and loveless she was the fairest 
of all the fair women there. Rudolf and his Mabel 
were not any happier than the two so strangely united, 
while 'twas remarked by several that even the grooms 
seemed no better pleased than did Mrs. Rowland and 
Dr. Warren over the happy ending to the brothers' 
wooing. 

"I can rest now," said the devoted sister. 

"You forget Miss Chester isn't settled in life* yet," 
was the reply, to which the lady responded that she 
was going to keep her for her own self, but from the 
way x\llan Harvey, who was there, hovered about the 
girl, some doubted that she would do so, and Mabel 
hoped that he might become fond of Elise. 

Mrs. Gordon was glad to renew her acquaintance 
with the friend of Mabel's girlhood, and he greeted 
the lady with deferential affection, and declared he 
must have a long talk for the sake of "auld lang 
syne." 

"First of all," said he, "let me congratulate you 
upon the brilliant marriage of your daughter. Ches- 
ter is a fine fellow. He fairly adores his bride, and 
no one blames him, she is so lovely. Can you realize 
that she is the little girl we knew at Dellwood, and 
who, at your command, gave me such nice cream, ber- 
ries and bread, the like of which I've never tasted 
since? If I come again, will you treat me as you did 
then? Do you know, in all my travels I've never eaten 
anything so delicious as the little luncheons in your 
hospitable home. Ah, if one could only call back 
those years!" 

"I will treat you just as before," said Mrs. Gordon, 



228 MABEL GORDON 

"but it is out of my power to give you the taste you 
liad then. Can you come back the Allan we knew 
ihen? You have seen much of the world and life, and 
I fear the man has lost the freshness and pure enjoy- 
ment of youth. Are you the same Allan we loved to 
welcome to our home?" 

Her kindly eyes were bent upon him in a way that 
recalled some expressions he had seen in Mabel's face, 
and he sighed as he answered : 

"Ah, Mother Gordon, I wish I knew less of the 
world and that I could be the boy you knew then ; but 
Allan, the man, has suffered in many ways the boy 
did not dream of. I did leave the right path a while, 
and do you know who helped to bring me back ? 'Twas 
a sweet, earnest, white-souled girl. Her prayers and 
sympathy brought me again to myself, and I thank 
her, and you, also, for what I am. Mabel's friendship 
has held me on the right track many times. I am not 
surprised that she has made such a noble woman. I 
always knew there were great possibilities in her 
make-up, and I shall always be glad that we ever met." 

"All of which is very pleasant for me — her mother — 
to hear. You were a great help to her, and she fre- 
quently said she owed much to the stimulus you gave 
her in studying. I missed you when you went away 
and Mabel was lost for a while. You must come again 
when Mrs. Rowland and Elise visit us. They want to 
try the Springs." 

The young man thanked Mrs. Gordon and assured 
her he would go when her friend went, which he did. 
Being thrown with Elise frequently, it came about as 
Mabel hoped — in time Allan won the young girl's 
heart, and, being one who could love quite comfortably 
rnore than once, he gave the trusting girl such devo- 
tion that she was perfectly content. 

After the guests had left and Colonel Chester and 
Mabel were alone, he said : 



MABEL GORDON ^39 

"Let me, my wife, give you a home which I beg 
you to accept in place of the one I deprived you of 
long ago." 

Leaning her head on his breast, she answered : 

"My home is here. Rudolf, life holds no dearer ob- 
ject to me than yourself, and when I see you a conse- 
crated Christian my happiness will be complete." 

"You shall be satisfied," he said, "for when my puny 
strength failed I realized my need of a higher power, 
and if He will take such a sinner as I, and use me, I 
am His. I owe so much to Him for sending you to 
me my whole life service can never repay Him." 

"Not that, dear," she said, "though your praise is 
sweet to me, but because God so loved the world He 
sent His only begotten Son to die for us, that we, 
through Him, might have life eternal." 



230 MABEL GORDON. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

" ' 'Tis only a little grave/ they said; 
'Only just a child that's dead.' 
And so they quietly turned azvay 
From the mound the spade had raised that day. 
They little knew hozv deep a shade 
That tiny grave in our home had made. 

"I know the coffin was narrow and small — 
One yard zvould have served as an ample pall — 
And one man in his arms could have borne away 
The rosebud and its freight of clay. 
But I know that darling hopes were hid 
Beneath that tiny cofUn lid." 

The baby boy whose presence in the Gordon house- 
hold had helped to make Mabel's departure more re- 
gretful when she was last in her old home, had early 
closed his eyes to all things earthly, and the home that 
his baby ways had brightened so much felt the shade 
caused by a "tiny grave," while the young parents 
found life dreary without the sound of the sweet voice 
and the touch of "waxen fingers." Their only com- 
fort was in the belief that he was "born unto that un- 
dying life," and that beyond the tomb "love would 
some day claim its ovv^n." 

Then another little life was given them, and, while 
there was a place in their hearts sacred to the first-born 
and departed child, yet the little one brought bright- 
ness to them, and his fond young father introduced 
him proudly to Mabel and her husband as : 



MABEL GORDON 231 

"Rudolf Chester Gordon." 

"Named for me?" asked the new uncle. "Well, 
this is a nice compliment, and a fine baby." 

"We would have named our first one for you," 
said Willie, "but Nellie's father was declining, and 
mine was not well, so we called him after his grand- 
parents, but when this little chap came I said he must 
be named for the noble man who came so quickly to 
our aid when we sorely needed help." 

The hands of the young men met in a warm clasp, 
and Colonel Chester's eyes were suspiciously moist as 
he replied : 

"I appreciate your courtesy, but must insist that 
no member of this family can feel under obligations 
to me." 

"Nevertheless," said Nellie, "we always will feel 
so. Oh, you can't understand all we endured then, 
and how much I have wanted to see you and thank 
you." 

"You certainly discharged your part of the indebt- 
edness you claim to owe when you advocated my cause 
with the father here, and Mabel keeps me constantly 
under obligations because of the happiness she gives 
me." gallantly answered the lawer. 

"Don't you think," asked Nellie, "that little Ru- 
dolf resembles Mabel?" 

"I am not expert in tracing resemblances in such 
a young man as this," said the gentleman, smiling, 
"but I believe there is something about his eyes like 
hers." 

"And his hair," said Willie, "what we can see 
of it, bids fair to be the same shade of " 

"Now brother," warned Mabel, "you are on danger- 
ous ground, for I haven't forgotten your compli- 
ments to my hair." 

"You couldn't wish for prettier," put in Colonel 
Chester, 



232 MABEL GORDON 

"Oh, the blindness of a lover!" exclaimed Willie, 
and his brother-in-law rejoined : 

"My attack was later coming than yours, but I 
wonder if I am any blinder than you were. How is 
it, Mabel?" 

"My sisterly patience was often taxed," replied 
Mabel, with a mischievous smile, "for, while I thought 
Nellie pretty enough, I didn't think she was the ex- 
tremely beautiful being Willie's ravings made her ap- 
pear." 

"Well, anyway," retorted her brother, his eyes twin- 
kling, "I could always see that her hair had been 

nicely combed, while say, Mab, have you brushed 

yours lately?" 



MABEL GORDON. 233 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

"Well^ I am certainly glad to get my family to- 
gether once more," said Mr. Gordon, settling himself 
contentedly in his big armchair near the end of the 
porch, shaded by a luxuriant honeysuckle vine, from 
whose flowers a brilliant-plumaged humming-bird ex- 
tracted sweets. 

Mrs. Gordon sat near, her face reflecting the hap- 
piness he expressed, for, while she had enjoyed her 
trip and stay, to her the unpretentious home was the 
sweetest place on earth, and to have all her dear ones 
with her once more filled her with such joy that it 
beamed from the kind eyes and made her look, so her 
husband said, almost as young as the "girls," and far 
handsomer. 

Willie leaned against the railing — a fine type of a 
prosperous young planter, broad shouldered, clean 
limbed, bronzed cheeked, with a forehead fair as a 
girl's, and earnest eyes that often sparkled with humor 
but met all others frankly. Nellie, with her babe on 
her lap, her dark eyes filled with the tender mother- 
love, her rich-hued complexion and silky black hair, 
her dress plain but perfectly neat; Mabel, dainty and 
fair; Colonel Chester, polished and handsome, made a 
family to be proud of. 

Mr. Gordon continued, addressing Mabel : 

"My daughter, we have needed you sadly many 
times, though Nellie has been all to us we could ex- 
pect, and I hoped to some time have you here to live. 
Since it was willed otherwise, and you have chosen a 



234: MABEL GORDON 

husband away from us, I am glad you have done so 
well, and by that I do not mean so far as worldly pos- 
sessions go, but that you have married a man." 

"Thank you, sir!" exclaimed Colonel Chester in 
surprise, "I hope to prove worthy of your good opin- 
ion." 

"I owe this to you," said the old gentleman, "and 
an honest man pays all kinds of debts, though he may 
be a little slow sometimes. A Gordon, sir, never re- 
pudiated an obligation of any sort. I remember our 
need, and but for your assistance this gathering might 
never have been, for Willie's conviction meant ruin to 
us. Your kindness, as late events have shown, was 
not wholly disinterested, still you were kind, and I ap- 
preciate what you did." 

"Ah! father," spoke Mabel, quickly, "you don't 
know what he suffered then, for he left me very ill, 
and he was hardly able to take up business at all." 

"I would not have worked in any case then save the 
one I did," said Colonel Chester very quietly, "and I 
fell so far below the other counsel in my speech that 
my work seemed nothing to me." 

"We know better," responded Mr. Gordon, "and if 
little Rudolf ever comes up to it we'll be satisfied, eh, 
Willie?" 

"I shall, sir," replied his son, and Mabel flashed a 
smiling approval at him. Colonel Chester turned to 
look his appreciation, but saw in the distance the spot 
where the stately house once stood, and, seeing the 
color dye his face. Mabel divined his feelings. Their 
praise really hurt him. 

"As for you, wife," said Mr. Gordon, "I don't think 
I'll ever let you leave me again, even for a few days. 
I was so lost without you." 

"I think father regretted not going with you, moth- 
er," said Willie. "It was pitiful to see how desolate 
he seemed. He went about the place aimlessly, his 



MABEL GORDON 235 

hands clasped behind him, his head bent as if in grief, 
and he looked years older. All of us pitied him, but 
his greatest sympathizer was a gander, whose mate 
had died." 

"Oh, brother!" exclaimed Mabel, while Colonel 
Chester laughed and Mrs. Gordon smiled. 

"Father and he became real chums," declared Wil- 
lie. "Wherever outdoors father went the gander fol- 
lowed close at his heels, and hovered patiently near 
the door when father came in the house. But the 
faithful feathered friend has lost his mate again, for 
father is too happy to be a congenial companion to a 
sad widower." 

"Father wasn't the only husband having trials 
then," said Nellie. "Old Uncle Tony had a sad time." 

"Was Peggy sick?" asked Mrs. Gordon. 

"No more than usual," said Willie. "Old Tony is 
a martyr to her aches all the time. Nellie often cites 
him as a shining example for me to follow, but I si- 
lence her by calling her attention to a number of cases 
where wise husbands use the rod of correction v/hen 
they think it is needed." 

"But you don't approve of that," said Nellie, smil- 
ing. 

"Not as severely as some of the negroes administer 
it, though really I believe those wives seem to respect 
their husbands much more. Why, I heard one brag- 
ging to another of her liege lord's prowess in that line. 
Nellie, when I see your respect for me seriously dimin- 
ishing ril adopt his method," laughingly warned the 
young man. 

"That's big talk, isn't it? He forgets I'm still a 
strong man, doesn't he, daughter?" said Mr. Gordon, 
addressing Nellie. 

"We know how to take his threats," she replied, 
"but to be on the safe side Til try to keep hirn with 
you, father, and under Uncle Tony's influence," 



236 MABEL GORDON 

'Tell us the old man's trouble," said Mrs. Gordon. 
"He seems bright enough now." 

"I was sorry for him then," replied Nellie. "He 
went about his work looking so sad and pa- 
tient that I asked him if he was ill. 'No'm ; 'tain' sick- 
ness wot bodderin' me now,' he said. 'Hit's wus 'n' 
dat.' 'Well, do try to brighten up,' said I, 'for it makes 
me feel bad to see you so droopy. Tell me your trou- 
ble, and perhaps I can help you.' 'Ah-h-h,' he sighed, 
and shook his head. 'Has father or Willie hurt your 
feelings?' I asked. 'No'm,' he answered, 'dey duz 
tawk mi'ty brash sumtimes, but I don' pay no tenshun 
tub 'em.' " 

"That's the truth," put in Mr. Gordon. 

"He wouldn't tell me his trouble," continued Nellie, 
"so I asked Aunt Peggy if she knew what worried 
him. 'Oh !' she exclaimed, impatiently, 'Tony sich uh 
ol' fool.' *Aunt Peggy !' I cried. 'He iz,' she affirmed. 
'You know, honey, Tony mah secon' husbun'. Mah 
fus 'n' bin dead long time, 'n' Simon, mah ol'es' son, 
he seh dat he mus' hab mo' 'spect showed he pa, en he 
dun gone 'n' tuck it in he head tub hab his fader 
fune'l preach.' 'His funeral preached!' I exclaimed. 
'Yessum,' she said ; 'I tole him it bin dun long ago 'n' 
dat nigga bin dead too long tub be preachin' he fune'l 
now ; 'sides it bin dun once, but he seh he don' 'member 
nuttin' 'bout it, an' hit's boun' tub be preach' ergin, 
an' Tony, he feel all upsot, 'n' seh he boun' tub go tuh 
chu'ch caze it his chu'ch whar de fune'l gwine be 
preach', an' 'twon't look well fo' him not tuh be dar, 
an' he don' want tuh go.' " 

"Very natural, I should say," said Colonel Chester, 
laughing. "Did he become reconciled?" 

"He seemed to think best to believe Aunt Peggy's 
assurance that 'hearin' 'em tawk 'bout dat nigga not 
gwine 'feet my feelin's tuh you, Tony,' for the next 
Sabbath morning I saw him sitting out near his house, 



MABEL GORDON 237 

industriously brushing his head, and he came to get 
the blacking to polish his shoes." 

"Evidently he was not going to let anything in his 
appearance cause Aunt Peggy to view him disparag- 
ingly," said ]\Iabel. 

"Father gave him a coat," went on Nellie, 
"Willie a pair of trousers, I a cravat and col- 
lar, and he treated himself to a new vest and pair 
of shoes ; he had a good hat. Aunt Peggy was neatly 
dressed, and they made a nice looking couple, but I 
don't think he was altogether satisfied, for as they 
passed through the yard I heard her say, 'Tony, don' 
be sech uh fool' " 

All laughed, and Colonel Chester said: 

"You don't need theatres down here." 

"Yes," replied Mr. Gordon, "we have comedy and 
tragedy sadly mixed, but if all the negroes were such 
as Peggy and Tony we'd never have any trouble with 
them." 

"And Mammy," said Mabel. 

"You must put on your prettiest dress when you go 
to see her," said Nellie. "She lamented sorely not see- 
ing you in bridal array." 

"I had my picture taken in my dress as much for 
her as ourselves," Mabel answered. 

"The old lady won't be with us long," Mrs. Gordon 
remarked, "and we will lose a faithful friend when 
she goes." 

"Yes," assented Mr. Gordon, "she never upholds 
her race in lawlessness. To tell the truth, low down 
white men are more to blame than the negroes. They 
are easily misled, and always trust pretended friends 
more than real ones, while we bear the burdens." 

"Suppose we go now to see Mammy," said Mabel. 
"Nellie, call Queen Sheba to take Master Rudolf, and 
you come help me dress." 



538 MABEL GORDON 

"You have a titled nurse, truly," said Colonel Ches- 
ter, smiling. 

"We have several queens about here," answered 
Willie, "so we have to distinguish them, and this one 
chose to call herself after the fine lady whose picture 
in the bible impressed her greatly." 

The dusky queen came in answer to the call, but 
Baby Rudolf tucked his head under his mother's arn: 
and refused any other nurse, so Nellie said : 

"The little Colonel won't leave me, sister, anc 
you'll have to let the queen be your tire-woman. She 
delights in such service." 

And to the queen's joy she was allow^ed the privi- 
lege, for such it was to her. Like all her race, she 
fairly doted on pretty apparel and enjoyed seeing hei 
"white folks" nicely dressed almost as much as hei 
own self. 

And, to add to her happiness, Mabel told her she 
should select the gown for her to w^ear; so she pickec 
out a shimmering, pale green silk, trimmed with deli- 
cately tinted pink and cascades of filmy lace. Wher 
the toilette was completed she stood before Mabel with 
open mouth and shining eyes. 

"Oh, Miss Mabel !" she exclaimed, "all yo' lack? 
ur bein' uh angul, iz Ttz/im^,?. Lawd o' mussy! Mam- 
my pu'ly gwine shout w^hen she see yo' now. Lemme 
git out'n hyur 'n' go tell de folks." 

"Wait till you get my hat, please," said Mabel 
smiling. "I hope you will like it." 

Lifting the dainty creation with hands that trem- 
bled, she placed it on Mabel's head, then with a bursi 
of rapturous laughter she fled from the room, ane] 
almost ran over Colonel Chester, who had sought 
Mabel to know if he must "dress up, too." 

"What's the matter w4th your maid?" he asked. 
"She nearly knocked me down, and never stopped to 
say anything." 



MABEL GORDON 339 

"Poor, simple child," said Mabel, smiling, "she is 
carried away with my dress, and has gone to tell the 
others that they may share her joy. I must give her a 
real pretty suit — she is so unselfish." 

"As usual, kind," said Colonel Chester. "Mabel, 
did you ever have anything nice that you didn't want 
to share it with someone?" 

"Nothing," she replied, "that I can remember, 
save," and she smiled archly, "your heart." 

"And that," he responded, "is wholly yours." 

"But I mustn't come first of all," she said. "Don't 
let me slip in before the One to whom we owe all that 
we have. We are not allowed to make idols, you 
know." 

She stood before him, her eyes raised to him with 
the earnest look he knew so well, so fair, so pure, such 
a vision of loveliness, that the lover-husband thought 
he would almost be excusable for idolizing her. 

As he put the finishing touches to his toilette he de- 
clared he had never taken more pains with his ap- 
pearance, for if he failed to stand approved before 
such an important member of the family as Mammy 
seemed to be his standing would certainly be affected. 

In answer to his inquiry as to how he looked, Mabel 
told him he only sought an expression of admiration, 
and he was already vain enough. To which he replied 
that he had never held a very exalted opinion of him- 
self, but since he had succeeded in winning such a 
woman as she he had concluded there must be some- 
thing in him to admire. 

The radiant face lifted to meet his caress expressed 
what she teasingly refused to say in words, and he 
smiled well satisfied. 

"You are not complete yet," she said. "Where is 
my little gift — your scarfpin?" 

"Ah, my dearest piece of jewelry," said he. "A 
token from and like you — this heart of pure gold, set 



240 MABEL GORDON 

with pearls, is emblematical of its donor. Certainly 
I need it, and now the handsome cane Willie sent me, 
and I think I'll pass. Come, my lady, your escort is 
' ready." 

Queen had summoned Uncle Tony and Aunt 
Peggy to join in her admiration, and when the couple 
came out to start for Mammy's house the dark faces 
expressed more delight than did any of the others, 
though Willie admitted that "Mab looked stunning, 
notwithstanding her red hair." 

During the walk Colonel Chester remarked : 

"Your old nurse's house is some distance from the 
home place." 

"It was near our pretty house," Mabel answered, 

"and as that as we moved a short while before the 

war ended, father didn't bring Mammy near the one 
we fled to " 

The gentleman's outflung hand stopped her. 

"Darling," he almost groaned, "I beg you to hush." 

For a little while there was silence between them, 
then he resumed : 

"I will be so glad when Willie builds the house he 
intends and pulls down those awful chimneys. They 
quite spoil all our nice times out on the piazza, loom- 
ing up tall and lonely, and reminding me always of the 
only act of vandalism I ever committed, and which I 
have repented of enough to satisfy anyone. Surely I 
suffered enough, but I don't blame you for holding 
out like you did. Loving your home as you do, I 
wonder that you ever could forgive and love the de- 
stroyer of that home." 

I loved first and forgave afterward," said Mabel, 

but, had you remained an unbeliever, you would have 

never been to me what you are now. Don't you think 

trying to shake my faith was as bad as burning my 

home? — one you did in the heat of passion, the other 



«■ 



MABEL GORDON 341 

deliberately. A big, learned lawyer against a simple 
girl. Aren't you ashamed ?" 

"Heartily," he confessed, "but you are wrong; 
'twas a foolish man trying to controvert the power of 
a pure, sincere life. My scepticism had to yield to the 
living proof of what perfect faith could do. I tell 
you, Mabel, if Christians would live what they profess 
to believe they could conquer all opposition." 

"You are right," she admitted, "but we are not to 
suppose one isn't sincere because he does wrong some- 
times. We see the wrong act ; we can't see the agony 
he may endure because of his fall, and isn't it comfort- 
ing to know that the One who can give peace to the 
burdened soul does see and understand! I think if 
human beings could know what their fellow-creatures 
often suffer they would be kinder in their judgments. 
But, to change the subject, I am so glad you and 
father agree politically." 

"I am glad, too," responded Colonel Chester, "and 
now that I've followed you and the mother religiously 
I suppose you'll receive me into full fellowship." 

"Mammy must pronounce upon you yet," said Ma- 
bel, smiling, "and here we are at her house. I'm glad 
to see it has been fixed up nicely." 

"She has it decorated," said Colonel Chester. 

"That is her crop of red pepper," explained Mabel. 
"She saves it that way, and I think those ropes of red 
make a pretty touch of color. They certainly look 
natural to me." 

Viney met them at the door, eyes and teeth shining 
as she welcomed "little missy," and showed her to the 
bed where Mammy, held down with age and infirmi- 
ties, awaited the coming of her "chile." Colonel Ches- 
ter's eyes moistened as he saw the rapturous meeting, 
for the old nurse's arms went around the silken waist, 
and for a few moments the fair face rested against the 



242 'MABEL GORDON, 

withered black one, while Mammy "blessed de Lawd" 
for sparing her to see her "babe" once more. 

Then, releasing Mabel, she held out her hand to the 
gentleman, bidding him welcome for her darling's 
sake. 

"An' yo' dun married, honey," she said. "Yo' got 
uh fine lookin' man, an' I 'spec's he gwine tek good keah 
uh yo', do' I wuz 'posed tub de match twel Mis' Mar- 
get telled me 'bout de turble times yo' bofe had 'cause 
uh one nudder, an' dat he dun foun' de dear Sabior, an' 
den I wuz willin'. De good Lawd let ole nigga see 
huh chile an' her husban' cum tub de ol' home. It 
ain' fine lak de one dem vilyuns 'stroyed, Mahs Run- 
nel, long wid de pictur's 'n' chiny 'n' piannah, do' de 
'stroyance o' dat nebber hind'unce my chile fum larnin' 
music, same ez de town gals. A Gawd'n not tub be 
tu'n'd fum ennyting dey sets out tub do, an' dis 
blessed chile tawked de mattah wid me, an' de upshot 
uh it all wuz we 'ranged fo' bur tub tek de lessons. 
When yo' mar'd her, mahster, yo' didn't git no trash, 
fo' we iz people." 

"Mammy is on her favorite theme now," said Mabel, 
smiling. 

"Let her talk," responded Colonel Chester; "I like 
to hear her." 

"Yas," went on Mammy, "I proud tub know uh 
chile I he'p rais' dun so well, but I alius knowed dis 
y gwine do fine. When she a little gal hip'n huh ma 
in de house 'n' dairy, an' w^earin' huh gingum frocks, 
I knowed dat sum day she'd be uh gran' lady, fo' de 
bible seh dat dem whut's fa'ful in little things gwine 
be made rulers ober great'ns, an' now hyuh she iz, all 
dress up in bur silks 'n' jools, same ez Queen Jezebel, 
V it do my ol' eyes good tub see huh." ^ 

"You still compare me to bible characters," said 
Mabel, with a smiling glance at her husband. "Who 
reads for you now, Mammy?" 



MABEL GORDON 243 

"Diff'unt ones. Siimtimes Miss Nellie fetches dat 
blessed baby ober kyuh, 'n' she read, but none un 'em 
reads lak yo', honey. Effen yo' ain' in uh hurry I'd 
lak tub beer sum o' de sweet truf dis ebenin'. Viney, 
fetch de Book tub little missy, an', Mahs Kunnel, ef 
my feelin's gits de better o' me while my chile reads, 
yo'll hatter 'scuse me. Mah book's wea'in' out, honey, 
but it'll las' tell I'm dun needin' it. Dat's de same one 
we uster cumfu't one 'nudder wid long 'go. Yo' 'mem- 
b'unce dem times, I reck'n chile." 

Mabel took the old book with gentle hands. The 
leather binding showed much handling, and there were 
numberless finger prints, for Mammy loved to turn 
the pages, though she could read nothing of the pre- 
cious truths it contained. 

Mammy folded her hands on her breast and closed 
her eyes. Viney took her seat at a respectful distance, 
motioning to some little negroes, who peeped in jus! 
then, to come and sit beside her. Colonel Chestei 
rested his head against his hand, and Mabel began in 
a low, clear tone : 

" 'He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most 
High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.' " 

"Bless de Lawd!" exclaimed Mammy, and all 
through the beautiful psalm she found cause for rap- 
turous ejaculations. 

When the reading was finished and they were bid- 
ding good-bye, Mammy held close the fair hand in a 
clasp that loosened reluctantly. 

"Cum soon ag'in," she pleaded, "fo' of Mammy 
not goin' be hyuh long. She'll be watchin' 'n' waitin' 
fo' yo' tub cum up tub de heabenly home, fo' please 
Gawd, dar's de only place I'm pendin' on bein', an' 
dat's de place He dun prepared fo' yo' chile. Hoi' 
on tub yo' faith en' trus' de Lawd, 'n' He'll nebber 
forsake yo'. He'll gie yo' strank fo' de trials, an' 
fetch yo' safe through de dahk places 'n' deep wattahs. 



f >» 



244 MABEL GORDON 

De Almi'ty Wings iz bin a restin' place fo' me, 'n' so 
you'll fin' 'em ef yo'll 'bide unner de shadow o' 'em. 
Dey tells me yo' iz uh great lawyer, Mahs Kun'l, but 
yo' nebber kin know de floods o' glory de spehit poahs 
into dis ol' nigga's soul. I prays de Lawd tub keep 
yo' bofe close tub Him, fo' yo' bofe my chillun now. 
Don't fo'git ol' Mammy, honey." 

Placing her hand softly on her nurse's head, Mabel 
answered : 

"Colonel Chester will tell you I remember you too 
well. He was a little jealous of my home folks." 

" 'Twas so hard to get her to care for me," ex- 
plained the husband, "and she longed always for her 
dear ones here." 

"And now," said Mabel, "he says my people shall 
be his people." She looked at him, smiling, and he 
added softly: 

" 'And thy God my God.' 

"Amen! Amen!" exclaimed Mammy. "Hallelu- 
yah ! Praise de Lam' ! Bless de Lawd, I'm see'n 'dis 
day!" 

Then she admonished "de Kun'l" : 

"Now yo' got my chile, yo' mus' be mi'ty good tub 
huh 'n' put huh in ez fine uh house ez dem " 

Mabel's fingers gently laid on the old woman's lips, 
checked further speech, for she saw the color rush into 
her husband's face, and she said gayly: 

"You should see the beautiful house he has given 
me, and all the other nice things that are mine. I 
only wish my dear ones could share my pleasures. 
Even your pride would be satisfied." 

"We'll enj'y knowin' 'bout it," said Mammy, "en 
sum day we'll all share de glory o' dat manshun in de 
skies. Oh, honey, it pays tub walk in de highway ef 
even we duz fin' it tejus sumtimes. De heartaches will 
en' sum day, an' de Lawd Hisself will wipe away our 
tears. All dese aches'Il en' den, and' honey, dat 'minds 



MABEL GORDON 245 

me. Tell Mahster, uh Willie, my medsin all gone 'n' 
I needs mo' spehits, too. Dese triflin' niggas whut 
waits on me sumtimes tuh res' Viney drinks up de liq- 
uor. 'Tends dey sick jes' ez long ez dar's uh drop in 
de jug. I don' know wot iz goin' become on 'em." 

"I'll see to it that you get a supply, and take pleas- 
ure in so doing," said Colonel Chester, smiling at the 
quick change of subject. 

"Mammy needs something stimulating," spoke Ma- 
bel, quickly. "We have been taught to look with 
horror upon the use of strong drink. Father is an ex- 
tremist in his views, but he gets Mammy all she needs 
now." 

"Dat he do," put in the old woman, "en' I'd uh had 
plenty now, but fo' dese idlin' niggas mekin' b'leeve 
dey sick jes' tuh get my dram." 

"I'll bring your medicines and the little gifts I have 
for you and Viney, and will leave Colonel Chester at 
home, and we'll have one of our old-time talks. You 
remember how you used to smooth the tangles out of 
my life as well as unruly hair, and cheered my heart 
when it was sad." 

Mammy gave Mabel a searching glance, which she 
answered with a bright smile, at the same time laying 
her hand on her husband's arm, seeing which the 
nurse nodded her head with a satisfied expression on 
her face. 

"You's had yo' share o' trials," she said, "but, bless 
de Lawd, yo' cum out victor'us. I prayed mi'tily, 
honey, fo' yo' heavenly Fadar tuh be nigh yo' 'n' tuh 
fetch yo' through puah. Ah, chile, ef yo' feet had'n' 
bin stayed on de Rock, ol' Sat'n ud uh toted yo' boda- 
shusly off; but yo' ma gin yo' tuh de Lawd when yo' 
a tiny babe, 'n' yo' gin yo'se'f soon's yo' ol' 'nuff tuh 
know whut yo' 'bout. You's hel' on tuh de faith, 'n' 
now de clouds iz gone 'n' yo' iz at peace." 

Promising to return soon, Mabel said "good-bye", 



^46 MABEL GORDON 

Colonel Chester lifted his hat, and the two turned 
homeward. 

For a little time neither spoke, then the gentleman 
broke the silence. 

"Truly," said he, "you have in the negro a problem 
hard to solve. I believe your old nurse is thoroughly 
good and devoted, and don't wonder you love her as 
you do. They all claim to be good, and seem very re- 
ligious, and yet they set at naught the laws of God 
and man whenever they please." 

"They are a peculiar people," responded Mabel, "and 
only Infinite Wisdom can know how to deal with 
them in regard to the hereafter, but there is a part of 
the problem those who are accustomed to them might 
solve if they were not interfered with so much by 
people who know nothing of them nor the situation, 
and who really don't like them as we do. Now you 
fought to free them, and can you tell me of one you 
love as we do Mammy and the companions of our 
childhood?" 

"I cannot," answered he. 

"And yet," she continued, "you are unwilling to 
trust those who have been raised with them, and have 
kindly feelings toward them, to manage them now." 

"I am certainly willing to trust you," he replied. 

"You've been converted," she retorted, smiling 
archly, "but didn't it take a lot to effect the change! 
Poor boy, you did have a hard lesson." 

"All that is past," he said, "and I've entered into 
peace. I can take up life with a cheerful heart. And, 
sweet, I don't want to sadden you, but you must not 
keep me away from my work too long, however pleas- 
ant we may find it. I must rise now for the sake of 
my wife." 

Mabel gave a sigh, and he asked : 

"Does it hurt you so much for me to speak of your 
going back? You are going with me, dearest." 



MABEL GORDON M? 

"Yes," she said, "and you know I would go with you 
anywhere, and 'where thou lodgest I will lodge'; but 
I can't help a feeling of sadness at the thought of 
leaving my old home. Sometimes, Rudolf, when I 
first went to stay with your sister I nearly died of 
homesickness. I remember writing mother that all 
the grand sights of New York had no charms for me — 
the cotton fields at home were far prettier to my eyes." 

"Dear, homesick, little girl," said he, tenderly; "so 
sad at heart and yet so brave, and not only sad but 
worried with my bearish ways. Mabel, will I ever 
make amends to you for all my conduct?" 

"That's all past, too," she answered, smiling up in 
his face. 

"And how changed life is to me," he said. "How 
different, too, everything about here is now from what 
it was when I first saw this place. War is a cruel 
thing and should be the last resort." 

"And ours," she said, "need not have been. Father 
says all those questions, the settling of which cost 
both sides so dearly, might have been settled in Con- 
gress, and just think of the precious lives that would 
have been spared, and of the suffering that might have 
been avoided!" 

"I am inclined to think the old gentleman is right. 
'Twas an awful struggle, and showed the world what 
kind of soldiers we could put in the field. There were 
deeds of daring on both sides unexcelled by any other 
nation, still we might have gotten on very well with- 
out those evidences of bravery," replied Colonel Ches- 
ter. 

"I think," said Mabel, "those soldiers who met in 
honorable battle cherish only respect for each other. 
Our people have no hard feelings toward men who 
did their duty. 'Tis the wanton vandalism practiced 

by some that " 

"Mabel," he interrupted quickly, "you checked your 



248 MABEL GORDON 



old nurse when she would have spoken ; can't you spare 
me?" 

"Dear," she answered, "you are over-sensitive. I 
didn't mean my remark for you, though we suffered 
terribly because of what you did." 

"I know it," he said earnestly. "I was sorry as soon 
as my anger cooled, and after you came and stole into ' 
my heart — ah, well I found what suffering meant 
when you steadfastly refused my love and left me. 
If I caused sorrow, I also felt it." 

The fingers of the hand he held tightened on his. 

"I have heard," went on Mabel, "that some of our 
men retaliated in kind on a few occasions, and I was 
sorry, for we want to feel that they left no wounds 
that even time fails to heal. Our leaders wanted 
nothing unsoldierly in their men." 

"You wrong ours," said he, "if you believe they en- 
dorsed such." 

"You had some fine men," she acknowledged, 
"magnanimous men, to whom we yield their meed of 
praise; but " 

"I know," said he, "and I grieve to acknowledge it, 
that you have just cause to remember some bitterly." 

"Well," she said, "the war is over, and the wounds 
are healing some. I pray we may never have another, 
and that the time will hasten when the Prince of Peace 
will reign in the hearts of all men." 

They had reached the summit of a little hill, at the 
foot of which a brook rippled past and wound, like a 
thread of silver, into the depths of the woods beyond, 
whence came a bird's clear evening song. 

Over the fields, where hung the heavy ears of corn, 
the soft breeze brought the lowing of home-driven 
cattle. A band of cotton-pickers were piling high the 
fleecy staple, while they sung with fine effect an old 
plantation melody. 



MABEL GORDON 249 



ft 



Across the West the traveling day^ 
Was hast'ning to depart." 



Long rays of golden light fell on the peaceful land- 
scape and brought out the rich autumnal hues of the 
forest. 

Colonel Chester paused and removed his hat. 

"Mabel," said he, "standing here with you and 
taking in the quiet beauty of this scene, I do not won- 
der you grew up so unspotted. These surroundings 
fill me with reverence and recall a beautiful senti- 
ment from a great writer: 'The world henceforth 
becomes a temple, and life itself one continued act of 
adoration.' To you, my beloved, I am indebted for 
being able to understand his feelings, and am other 
than the miserable unbeliever I was." 

"Not to me," she cried. "Oh, Rudolf, not to me. 
To our God give all the honor and glory." 

"To Him first, of course," he replied, "but to you, 
too, because of your unfaltering fidelity and sincerity. 
Love, 'twas shameful in me to tease you as I did. Do 
you remember my calling you 'Saint Mabel'?" 

"Yes," she said; "but even then I had a hope you 
would some day see the error of your way." 

"For all you coolly told me you would never trou- 
ble me about it, and seemed to think the heathen over 
the seas more precious than I." 

Lifting her face, filled with emotion, she answered : 

"And now, and for all time, your welfare will be 
my constant care. Always I bear you in my prayers 
to Him who has brought us safely through so many 
sorrows, who let us meet 'and read life's meaning in 
each other's eyes.' And my earnest prayer is to be to 
you a helpmeet indeed." 



250 MABEL GORDON 

Drawing her close within his arms, his rich tones 
deepening as he spoke, he said : 

"I know it. Ah, Mabel, sweet wife, of you it may 
truly be said : 

'' 'The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.' " 



THE END. 




00006739247 



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